Spill Preparedness and Emergency Response

Corporate Responsibility

Spill Preparedness and Emergency Response

Our systems span from proactive risk identification and management, to mitigation across all operations in Canada and offshore UK and Africa.

In Canada, we have a considerable in-house inventory of spill response supplies and equipment strategically located at our major operations for easy access. The intent of this spill response equipment is to support immediate, initial response to smaller spills, until other resources can be mobilized to the site. Spill response kits contain materials and equipment — boats, wildlife deterrents, hand tools, safety supplies and absorbent materials — in addition to the resources available through cooperatives in the Western Canadian Spill Services (WCSS).

Similarly, at Canadian Natural’s International operations (CNRI), our oil spill response structure is comprised by immediate response and regional resources. CNRI’s ‘tiered’ emergency response structure aligns with international standards and ensures that the planned response reflects the particular spill risk:

  • Tier 1 – Local. Resources on-site control small releases or releases that disperse naturally and do not require onshore support. These resources include dedicated Field Support Vessels/Emergency Response and Recovery Vessels, as well as dispersant spraying equipment, inflatable boom and skimmer for removing oil from the sea surface.
  • Tier 2 – Regional. Larger releases that require support from a regional specialized contractor with support by our onshore Emergency Response teams in Aberdeen and Africa.
  • Tier 3 – National. A major or large ongoing release requiring mobilization of our onshore Emergency Response teams, and likely to require response assistance at a national/international level. Tier 2 and 3 oil spill response capability is provided by our membership of Oil Spill Response Limited, with extensive oil spill response equipment at various locations around the world and mobilized globally using dedicated aircraft.

Emergency response exercises

In addition to maintaining a detailed ERP system, interactive exercises reinforce our preparedness for effective emergency response. In 2016, we completed all our scheduled ERP training exercises — 117 in our North American Exploration and Production operations, 101 at Horizon, and nine intermediate and two major exercises in our CNRI offshore operations.

Exercises in our Canadian operations are designed to test Emergency Response facilities, and the response of the ER team and supporting teams to stakeholders (first responders, regulators, families and media) during a major event. Table-top exercises are carried out to review the expected responses to certain scenarios by Canadian Natural personnel in an informal setting while ‘functional’ exercises involve corporate and external support functions that may be required in a real event.

Offshore emergency response exercises in our international operations test the efficiency of our response to manage major environmental events using available resources on a local and national basis. In preparation for drilling, training sessions and exercises also involve our drilling partners and evaluate the understanding of the roles of the different parties within the overall emergency response strategy and how all would work together in response to an emergency scenario. In addition to table-top exercises, ‘full scale’ exercises are also carried out and involve the offshore installations and the onshore support functions that would mobilize in a real event. CNRI’s Emergency Response Team in Abidjan and Strategic Response Team in Aberdeen are involved as well as contractors’ Emergency Response Teams, along with support functions such as topside medical assistance providers, standby vessels and helicopter services.

Regional emergency response

Collaboration with industry peers and emergency responders is a constant throughout our operations. Canadian Natural has been a supporter of STARS Air Ambulance for almost 30 years , and we provide ongoing support to local fire departments and other first responders as part of our commitment to safety as a core value in the communities where we operate.

In our oil sands operations, our Emergency Response team provides full emergency response capability personnel 24 hours per day. Their services include: fire prevention, fire protection, medical and rescue response, water and ice rescue, industrial firefighting, aircraft rescue and firefighting standby, respiratory protection maintenance, gas detection maintenance, site safety and emergency training, medical center support, hazardous material spill response and communications. They also provide mutual aid obligations off-site to oil sands companies as well as emergency services on the 17 kilometers of Horizon highway. Our Emergency Response team played an important role in fighting the RMWB fires in May 2016. Click here for more information on Canadian Natural’s response to the Fort McMurray fires.

Through the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo’s (RMWB) Mutual Aid Partnership, Canadian Natural lends assistance across jurisdictional boundaries when required. Annual exercises help enhance skills and ability to assist one another.