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OR&R Participates in Gulf of Mexico SubSea Dispersant Injection (SSDI) Exercise

DECEMBER 7, 2020 — Following the Deepwater Horizon spill, in order to significantly reduce the time required to contain a deep sea well, industry built out ready to deploy subsea containment equipment and interim subsea dispersal equipment.

Aerial image of spilled oil and vessels on the water.
Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Image credit: NOAA.

Industry has exercised this equipment and decision making process over the last six years. The Kosmos Energy exercise held on November 19 included a simulated consultation with the Regional Response Team VI.  The NOAA Office of Response and Restoration (OR&R) Disaster Preparedness Program and Emergency Response Division serves as the Regional Response Team representative for the Department of Commerce, as well as the role of the lead scientific support advisor to the United States Coast Guard.

The Kosmos Energy Exercise simulated a very large blowout event - 116k barrels of oil per day - twice that of the Deepwater Horizon failure.   Many wells in the Gulf of Mexico now have “Worst Case Discharge Potential” of over 100,000 barrels per day. The use of dispersants are an option to reduce overall environmental impact and assist in well mitigation.   As part of the exercise, the Regional Response Team consults with NOAA about the use of dispersants as required under the National Contingency Plan.  Both the NOAA OR&R Regional Response Team representatives and National Marine Fisheries Service scientists participated in this exercise. 

The goal of these exercises are to be ready for the next major oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and all waters of the United States.  Participating in exercises like these help to ensure NOAA plans, policies, and procedures are disaster ready, and NOAA personnel are well-trained for the next disaster response.

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Last updated Friday, December 11, 2020 5:01pm PST