We implement preventive measures to avoid spills and continually seek to improve our risk management, operations integrity and containment capabilities.
We take a rigorous approach to assessing and managing the potential impacts of a spill on water or land with a particular emphasis on risk management, operations integrity and containment capabilities. We are proud to report that, as a result of these efforts, we had fewer spills in 2016 compared with 2015.
Performance and initiatives
Over the past 10 years, ExxonMobil has reduced the global number of spills greater than 1 barrel by more than 13 percent.* We are continuously working to improve our ability to ensure a rapid and comprehensive response if a spill does occur. The total volume of hydrocarbons spilled on soil and water was 4,700 barrels in 2016, with more than 50 percent recovered at the spill sites. The majority of these spills did not affect third parties or the communities that surround our assets.
In 2016, an oil spill response workshop was held in Guyana as part of an ongoing technical workshop series hosted by ExxonMobil. This capacity building workshop was delivered by instructors from ExxonMobil’s University of Spill Management. Participants included the Guyana Civil Defense Commission, Guyana Geology and Mines Commission and the Guyana Environmental Protection Agency.
*This statistic is presented as an absolute number across ExxonMobil’s global operations.
Offshore oil spill response
Because a significant portion of our Upstream operations are located offshore, we have developed specialized capabilities and tactics to improve offshore oil spill response and risk management. ExxonMobil has the industry’s only dedicated, in-house oil spill response research programme, which includes a focus on cold water and remote locations, such as the Arctic.
With 90 years of experience operating in the Arctic and a sustained commitment to Arctic technology research and development since the 1970s, ExxonMobil is uniquely positioned to operate safely and in an environmentally responsible manner in cold and ice-prone regions.
ExxonMobil has participated in and provided technical leadership to several joint industry projects to enhance industry offshore spill response capability. These initiatives include the American Petroleum Institute (API) joint industry task force, the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (IOGP) Arctic oil spill response technology joint industry program and an IOGP and IPIECA joint industry project. Since 2011, ExxonMobil has been an active member of the Marine Well Containment Company (MWCC), an independent not-for-profit company that provides well containment equipment and technology in the deepwater U.S. Gulf of Mexico. These initiatives allow us to share best practices and learn from our peers.
Performance and initiatives
In 2016, we successfully stewarded completion of a field test of a full-scale prototype technology that uses nuclear magnetic resonance in the Earth’s field to remotely detect oil that might be trapped in ice. The technology is designed to detect the presence of oil to allow responders to monitor and more effectively respond to oil under ice.