RRT's emergency response exercise circles the globe

Members of the Regional Response Team (RRT) came together in September for the first time in two and a half years, for their largest and most ambitious exercise ever undertaken, involving teams from around the world. 

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RRT's emergency response exercise circles the globe

Held over four days, Exercise Suriya included section meetings, training and team building and a global 28-hour simulated crisis operation. Based on a potential real-life scenario of a subsea pipeline leak in SriRacha refinery in Thailand, the crisis spanned 28 hours and involved 309 people from 39 countries, including ExxonMobil partners.

Its purpose was to re-engage the RRT team, which like so many operations, has been restricted by the COVID pandemic and provide an opportunity to test ExxonMobil’s common tools and processes, which allow seamless and consistent communication between regions across the globe.

As the first ever global RRT exercise, proceedings began in Asia Pacific where an incident command post was established in Singapore.  The team there undertook initial assessments and actions to address the incident over an eight-hour period, before handing command over to the EMEA region whose incident command post was in Southampton, supported by a hub in Prague.  After another ten hours of simulated response, the EMEA team handed over control to the Americas, who in turn returned control to the Asia Pacific team another eight hours later. The Asia Pacific team finally brought the globe spanning exercise to a close after a further two hours.

“In many ways, Exercise Suriya has been an exercise of firsts,” says Travis Hansen, lead coordinator for the RRT in the EMEA/AP regions. “As this was our first global exercise, we could practice handovers between our three regional teams – we’d never done that before.  And, as well as having teams working in person, many were involved virtually due to COVID restrictions, adding another layer of complexity.  We were also able to practice our volunteer management by creating and executing a plan together.  And it was the first time we simulated the whole end-to-end process with equipment including specialist equipment from Oil Spill Response Limited (OSRL).” 

“I have to pay tribute to everyone involved,” he said. “People were really moved by the commitment of their colleagues and partners.  One of ExxonMobil’s ‘expectations of leaders’ is to demonstrate the worldwide capability of the company.  For us to have been able to do that in the RRT was special.”

Ironically, during the weekend that followed the September drill, two of the RRT incident commanders were involved in the emergency support group for the UK’s real life fuel crisis.  Travis added: “It just goes to show that you can never really rest – you always need to be ready to respond, as a crisis can occur anytime anywhere!”

A team of many of our emergency response specialists from Europe, together with a few from Africa and the Middle East, gathered in Hampshire in September to support the global response effort