International Assistance: Sharing the Load or Muddying the Waters?

23 May 2024

International Assistance: Sharing the Load or Muddying the Waters?

Alex Hunt, David Campion and Angela Pinzón

Paper presented at International Oil Spill Conference (IOSC), Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, New Orleans, Louisiana New Orleans 13-16 May 2024 

Despite a significant decline in major ship-sourced oil spills worldwide, these incidents continue to pose significant challenges for affected countries, impacting livelihoods and coastal ecosystems. Effective spill response is crucial to mitigate environmental and economic impacts, but this can be difficult to achieve during large-scale incidents, particularly where there is limited preparedness. International collaboration and assistance from governments and intergovernmental organisations can be critical to support response efforts, particularly in the early stages.

This paper draws upon recent case studies, including the SOLOMON TRADER in the Solomon Islands in 2019, the WAKASHIO spill in Mauritius (2020), X-PRESS PEARL in Sri Lanka (2021), the Callao spill in Peru (2022), and the PRINCESS EMPRESS incident in the Philippines (2023), to analyse the benefits and challenges of government-to-government support in large-scale ship-sourced oil spills. It highlights the importance of situational awareness and effective communication from the outset to facilitate strategic support and proposes a common approach to the coordination of assistance to increase efficiency and reduce duplication of effort and resources.

This paper also tackles the challenge of aligning guidance from multiple sources of expertise to reduce the risk of conflicting technical advice and resulting confusion. By providing insights from a diverse range of interviewed stakeholders, along with the ITOPF response team, this paper aims to contribute to a better understanding of the wide-ranging benefits and common challenges of international collaboration in spill response and provides recommendations for enhancing the effectiveness of future response efforts.

Categories: Planning & operations, Papers