Cape Town: 05 November 2019
South Africa’s resolve to organise its state of readiness for the prevention of oil spills at its oceans as well as maintain an effective and efficient management system of oil spill incidents when they occur is again being demonstrated in Cape Town this week with the staging of an advanced practical training course in oil spills incident management, conducted by international experts in the field.
The training over four days this week involving about 40 South African officials – and the third of its kind in recent years – is being conducted on behalf of the South African government and domestic oil and gas industry by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and IPIECA international oil spill experts. It was organised through the Global Initiative for West, Central and Southern Africa (GI-WACAF) Project.
It is a spin-off of and spill-over from last week’s GI-WACAF four day conference also held in Cape Town involving more than 20 African countries bordering the Atlantic Ocean’s east coast.
Spokesperson for organisers, Mr Chueu Terrence Mabuela, the chairman of the South African Interim Incident Management Organisation (IMOrg) under the Department of Transport, says the initiative is informed by the country’s National Oil Spill Contingency Plan (NOSCP).
Its goal, he says, is to firmly establish and maintain a management system where “the right people at the right time with the best-suited skills and accountabilities’…are at hand to both prevent and manage oil spills at the country’s oceans.
“In identifying the potential impact of offshore oil and gas production, the critical issue of oil spills and their impact on the marine environment was raised. In the context of preliminary discussions which initially took place in 2014 during the Operation Phakisa ‘Oceans Economy’ collaboration sessions, it was clear that there was a need for a joint-government/industry response approach to marine pollution incidents in the maritime and oil & gas sectors.
“By adopting international best practice in incident management, South Africa is proactively preparing to manage marine pollution incidents effectively, ensuring that the appropriate resources and stakeholders are mobilised quickly – and important and timeous decisions made,” says Mr Mabuela
Captain Ravi Naicker, a senior manager for Navigation, Protection Services and Environment at the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) and co-chairman of IMOrg, says the training event currently underway at the Durbanville Conference Centre is the 3rd joint industry and Government national oil spill response exercise of its kind with an endorsement by the IMO.
According Captain Naicker, who had been central to organisation of the event, working closely with the IMO: “South Africa is fortunate to be part of the GI-WACAF, a project that sees the IMO collaborating with IPIECA – a global oil and gas industry association for environmental and social issues – to enhance the capacity of partner countries to prepare for and respond to marine oil spills.
Captain Naicker says central to the success of the training initiatives is the involvement and collaboration of both government and industry because all relevant national Government departments and authorities, local and municipal responders, pollution prevention, containment and clean-up organisations, as well as vessel and offshore installation operators need to be aware of their responsibilities in the case of an incident.
As such, regular oil spill response exercises – initiated and managed by the Interim IMOrg utilising the Incident Management System (IMS) – bring together accountable designated representatives from a number of departments and state institutions such as the Department of Transport (DOT), Department of Environment, Forestry & Fisheries (DEFF), SAMSA, Department of Minerals and Energy (DME), Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), South African Police Service (SAPS), National, Provincial and Local Disaster Management Centres.
Others include the Petroleum Agency South Africa (PASA), PetroSA, Oil Spill Response Limited (OSRL), Offshore Petroleum Association of South Africa (OPASA), Strategic Fuel Fund (SFF), various environmental Conservation Agencies, as well as non-profit organisations such as the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB), Industry role players in emergency response, oil spill response and marine operators, amongst others.
At this week’s advanced training in IMS300 module, participants are being prepared as team members for response management by the application of the IMS to the higher levels of sustained oil spill response management, including management of complex incidents involving multiple types of concurrent emergencies.
According to Captain Naicker, the course is a more focused look at IMS and a greater in-depth description of the roles under the various structures.
“IMS 300 is therefore a continuation of IMS 200 and thus IMS 100 and IMS 200 is a requirement. The course will provide participants an understanding of , among other issues; a greater technical and functional understanding of IMS, IMS Section functions, including the Incident Action Plan (IAP), completion and facilitation of the various IMS forms, and the roles and duties of the various organisational striations under IMS.
Course topics include management of expanding incidents, area command concepts, IMS organisation for multiple command posts, and sustained incident planning and development of multi-layered Incident Action Plans as well as resource management and demobilisation.
On Wednesday and Thursday, the trainees will then undergo a practical training in many of these issues.