A NEW study mapping-out potential risks to the UK’s coastal environment, marine life and traffic as a result of hydrocarbon releases from energy industry activity and shipping has been completed, helping to inform the Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s (MCA) future response strategy.

Xodus Group, in association with London Marine Consultants, delivered the review of the hydrocarbon release risk on the UKCS over the next decade for the MCA, an agency of the Department for Transport of the UK Government.

The high-level review evaluated the risk of a serious mineral oil release occurring in UK waters from vessels of more than 1,000 gross tonnage (GT), including oils carried as cargo, bunker fuel and from offshore installations.

 

It includes the nature of risk and the likelihood of a serious hydrocarbon release in UK waters considering developments in ship and rig design and operations, and analysis of historical releases and near misses. The report also provides a lookahead during the 2020s, to anticipate how changes in industry, aging infrastructure and/or decommissioning will affect the level of risk.

The review will inform the MCA’s oil spill preparedness planning and associated activities for the next decade and consists of five reports: Oil cargo and bunkers; Qualitative review of the spill risk from ships; The offshore risk, overall assessment of the risk and a summary report for the project.

Xodus formed a multi-disciplinary team of geospatial specialists, marine architects from London Marine Consultants, safety engineers, environmental modellers, environmental impact assessor and economists with a wide-ranging knowledge of the upstream oil industry and shipping to deliver this project.

Claire Hughes, Director of HM Coastguard said: “Predicting the potential environmental and geological impacts of hydrocarbon releases in UK waters is crucial to the ongoing development of our national response strategy. Studies of this type help to inform the work that our teams do in preparing for a ship or installation-based oil spill.”

Dr Anthony Millais, Environmental Engineering Lead at Xodus said: “It has been a pleasure to bring our expertise and skills to this project, working with significant large-scale data sets. By incorporating our knowledge of the oil industry and its potential impacts on the marine ecosystem, we have brought new approaches and insights to maximise the value of the data held by the MCA for the benefit of the UK and its rich and busy marine environment.”