The International Offshore Petroleum Regulators (IOPER) focus on key priority issues working collaboratively to share knowledge.

Regulating Oil Spill Preparedness and Response

NOPSEMA, APPEA and the International Offshore Petroleum Regulators (IOPER) coordinated a Source Control Workshop in Australia at Spillcon international oil spill conference held in Perth, Western Australia on May 20th 2019. The one-day workshop focussed on the current state of the industry’s subsea well Source Control Preparedness and Response planning efforts, specifically addressing the delivery and installation of a Capping Stack.

The workshop brought together global subsea well expertise in E&P operators, international regulators and service providers, to define where efforts are best assigned in pre-planning to minimise the timelines for well intervention in a loss of well control event. Over 120 participants across close to 40 organisations attended the event.

Presentations throughout the day covered the various aspects and necessary work planning to implement a subsea well source control response and in particular global subsea well response equipment stockpiles, interface and connection variables, fluid dynamics modelling, logistics arrangements and regulatory requirements. Current industry best-practice in planning for a subsea well source control response was also presented in the form of Report 594: “Source Control Emergency Response Planning Guide for Subsea Wells”, developed by the IOGP Subsea Well Response Subcommittee.

Following the workshop, NOPSEMA initiated a detailed subsea wells source control planning tool in the form of a Response Time Model (RTM) which was adopted and completed by the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (IOGP). The RTM provides a basis for best practice planning in accordance with Report 594, under a variety of well locations, designs, and characteristics. IOGP has subsequently produced Report 592 – Subsea Capping Response Time Model Toolkit User Guide to accompany the RTM toolkit and support operators to predict an estimated response timeline for capping a subsea well blowout. Copies of the IOGP Reports and RTM toolkit are available from

Joint Industry Workshop on Oil Spill Preparedness and Response

In May, 2016 the International Offshore Petroleum Regulators (IOPER) joined forces with the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) to organise and stage a joint regulator/ industry workshop on the oil spill preparedness topic of ‘How Much is Enough?’. The half-day workshop was held in conjunction with the Spillcon conference in Perth, Western Australia. During the well-received workshop industry and government stakeholders working in oil spill preparedness and response discussed national and international perspectives on how much preparedness and response is appropriate in the context of oil spill risks from offshore oil and gas. Topics discussed included the key role of risk assessment in determining response need, the development of tactical response plans, the use of semi-quantitative approaches to measuring capability, and the role that the ALARP principle plays in the Australian context.

The workshop furthered work undertaken by IOPER members to develop a number of internationally-recognised ‘guiding principles’ for regulating oil spill response preparedness in the offshore oil and gas industry. These aim to ensure proper and systematic risk identification and management processes and drive identification, implementation and maintenance of the right spill planning, preparedness and response arrangements. These are described in the Guiding Principles document and its accompanying introduction.


Enforcement Tool Research

Regulatory theory suggests that successful regulators have a sophisticated understanding of the nature of the risk that is being regulated, the regulated parties, and the changing regulated environment. In the context of the offshore petroleum industry, the possible research areas include:

  • Understanding the regulated companies
  • Understanding the capacity and role of the regulator
  • Understanding the changing environment
  • Understanding the quality and effect of regulation

Practical areas where research might be useful include:

  • Enforcement tools
  • Information and targeting
  • Transparency

Members have agreed to initiate a research project on enforcement tools using a survey and to share a draft of the survey with members for feedback.



General challenges associated with decommissioning include:

  • Non-compliance (e.g. if not completed, poses risk to safety and environment).
  • Lack of financial solvency, leading to lessees being unable to finance suitable decommissioning.
  • Removal of habitat formed around structures during decommissioning.
  • Environmental damage caused during the decommissioning activities (such as fish kills associated with explosive removal of platforms).
  • Extreme weather events that damage structures and increase the cost of decommissioning.

IOPER members noted that many challenges are common and the issue is addressed differently in each jurisdiction. It was agreed that information on how environmental impacts as a result of removal are considered in respective jurisdictions would be useful to share.

BOEM has prepared a list of scholarly articles on the environmental impacts of decommissioning. These articles were identified using energy and environmental databases with references from peer reviewed journals, industry publications, trade magazines, and workshop proceedings. In all, 38 relevant articles and other sources such as books were identified. A copy of the document is available here.