Responding to oil spills: Offshore and deep sea habitats

January 9, 2018, Lacombe, LA 

Responders, natural resource managers, and scientists came together to discuss offshore oil spill response. This workshop was organized by the Sea Grant Oil Spill Outreach Team and hosted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the Southeast Louisiana National Wildlife Refuges Complex in Lacombe, Louisiana. The workshop focused on sharing science and expertise about offshore oil spill response. Topics covered included oil spill preparedness, mechanical recovery, source control, in situ burning and dispersants.

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View the flyer here. View the agenda here.

Introduction to the Oil Spill Science Outreach Program

Monica Wilson (Florida Sea Grant) and Emily Maung-Douglass (Louisiana Sea Grant facilitated the workshop and explained the Sea Grant-GoMRI oil spill science outreach program. View video here.

Oil Spill Preparedness
The morning session consisted of four speakers who covered the topics of oil spill preparedness and mechanical recovery.

Mike Sams is the Incident Management and Preparedness Advisor for the United States Coast Guard District 8. He spoke about the National Response System and gave details of the teams that are part of that system. He also shared improvements that have been made post Deepwater Horizon and guidelines for the Preparedness for Response Exercise Program (PREP). View video here.

Mike Drieu is the Health, Safety and Environmental Advisor for Anadarko Petroleum Corporation. He spoke about the joint contingency plan between Mexico and the U.S. known as MEXUS. He explained past exercises that have been completed, shared who was involved, accomplishments, and challenges.    View video here.

Gary Petrae is a Senior Preparedness Analyst for the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) Oil Spill Preparedness Division. He shared BSEE’s role in oil spill prevention, preparedness, and response for U.S. offshore facilities. He discussed response plans, required exercise compliance, and gave great details about how BSEE enforces these rules and plans. He also shared some of the science that BSEE is conducting to improve oil spill response and preparedness. View video here.

Source Control, Mechanical Recovery, & Skimming

Frank Paskewich is the President of Clean Gulf Associates (CGA), which is a non-for-profit cooperative that provides oil spill response resources to exploration and production companies operating in the Gulf of Mexico. Frank shared details on how CGA operates and spoke about the resources they have to respond to oil spills. View video here.

Mike Drieu is the Health, Safety and Environmental Advisor for Anadarko Petroleum Corporation. He spoke briefly about issues surrounding source control.    View video here.

Morning panel discussion: The morning question and answer session can be viewed here.

In Situ Burning
The afternoon session consisted of five speakers and covered the topics of in situ burning and offshore dispersant use.

Charlie Henry, Director for NOAA’s Gulf of Mexico Disaster Response Center, introduced the audience to in situ burning. He spoke about a bit about the process, the advantages and disadvantages of in situ burning as well as the technologies involved with in situ burning and how they are evolving to improve for the future. View video here.

Ed Overton, an Emeritus Professor at Louisiana State, also spoke about in situ burning. He gave an overview of mechanisms that cause environmental impacts from oil spills, including weather and in situ burning. He also spoke about in situ burning oil residues.  View video here.


Paul Schuler is the Director of External Affairs for the Americas for Oil Spill Response Limited (OSRL). Paul gave a brief overview on response strategies and what are the drivers when developing these strategies. His talk also included a background on surface dispersants. Paul shared how dispersants are used and why they are an effective response tool. View video here.

Tom Coolbaugh is an Oil Spill Response Advisor for ExxonMobil Corporation’s Safety, Security, Health and Environment Support organization. His presentation covered the topic of subsea dispersant injection. He shared how subsea dispersants were used during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, explained the benefits of subsea dispersants, and shared references that have increased the understanding, benefits, and limitations of subsea dispersants. View video here.

Vijay John is a faculty member in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Tulane University. Vijay spoke about the science behind dispersants. He shared videos and results from the research he and his lab are conducting.

Afternoon panel discussion: The afternoon question and answer session can be viewed here.