An operational and commercial model has been brokered with the oil industry allowing HM Coastguard to call on a BP-chartered vessel, the Grampian Frontier, to provide support in the event of a pollution incident.
The Emergency Response and Rescue Vessel (ERRV) operates west of Shetland and the owner North Star Shipping is working with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to ensure that the crew and equipment are able to respond. The involvement of the Frontier builds on the UK Government’s commitment last year to fund an Emergency Towing Vessel in waters around Scotland for the duration of the current Spending Review.
As a signal of their commitment to the industry scheme, BP also announced that it is investing up to $250,000 towards new towing equipment to upgrade its fleet of Caledonian regional support vessels. This investment will enhance their ability to also respond in the event of an incident.
During the launch of the agreement at Aberdeen Harbour, BP North Sea Regional President Trevor Garlick said:
“BP and North Star are pleased to be able to offer assistance to the Government regarding the provision of emergency towing capability. BP has had a major presence in the Shetland region for many decades and is investing significantly to develop its business there. While the primary risk to the marine environment and Scottish coastline is from transient vessels passing the islands – as opposed to from the domestic oil and gas industry – we are prepared to help in the interests of the wider community. We have reached an agreement under which the Grampian Frontier vessel can be released from its day to day operational role if an emergency arises that requires her help.
“As part of the upgrading of its marine fleet BP has also decided to improve the towing capability on its four Caledonian regional support vessels. Combined with the two new vessels it has ordered for the UK, this provides the Maritime and Coastguard Agency with further options in the event of an incident. ”
The Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore MP said:
“This is the first agreement of its kind in the UK, and I would like to thank BP and North Star for their commitment and enthusiasm for this work. The legacy of the Braer disaster has great resonance in Scotland and beyond.
“Today’s agreement shows a clear commitment and leadership by BP and North Star to support efforts to protect the environment.”
“This is a powerful signal of their support for counter pollution and they are setting a great example to the wider industry. I am hopeful that other companies will follow suit and register their vessels for the scheme. I am very grateful for Oil & Gas UK’s efforts to facilitate both this agreement and wider industry participation.”
Now that an operational and commercial model has been identified, it is hoped that the scheme will be broadened out to include other suitable vessels identified by offshore industry around Scotland. Oil & Gas UK, who helped to broker today’s agreement, will work with the MCA to evaluate operation of the agreement and explore the possibility of other industry vessels that may be suitable to register for the scheme.
Oonagh Werngren, Oil & Gas UK‘s Operations Director, said:
“Oil & Gas UK has been working with the UK Government over the last year to see how the industry could help ensure the provision of emergency towing vessels. BP’s agreement today that it will volunteer the Grampian Frontier vessel to help in an emergency should the MCA deem it appropriate is very welcome.
“It shows the effectiveness of the collaborative approach to addressing safety and environmental concerns adopted by the Government and industry and BP and North Star, in particular, should be applauded for leading the industry response here. We will also be consulting with our membership to see what other vessels are out there and hopefully we can build on this momentum.”