Spill Preparedness and Emergency Response

Corporate Responsibility

Spill Preparedness and Emergency Response

Our systems encompass proactive risk identification, management and 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. Other resources are available through cooperatives in the Western Canadian Spill Services (WCSS).

Similarly, at Canadian Natural’s International operations, our oil spill response structure is comprised of immediate response and regional resources. Our ‘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 assistance at a national/international level. Tier 2 and 3 oil spill response capability is provided by our membership in 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

As a key element of our robust emergency management program, interactive exercises reinforce our preparedness for effective emergency response. Training and planned exercises are completed for all Canadian and offshore operations. Exercises are designed to test the efficiency of our emergency response and supporting teams (first responders, regulators, families and media) to major environmental events using resources on a local (and national) basis. Tabletop exercises are carried out to review personnel response to certain scenarios in an informal setting, while ‘functional’ exercises involve corporate and external support functions that may be required in a real event. 

In preparation for drilling, training sessions and exercises at our International operations also involve our drilling partners and evaluate the understanding of the different roles within an emergency scenario. In addition to tabletop exercises, ‘full scale’ exercises are carried out for our offshore installations and onshore support functions, including emergency response teams in Abidjan and Aberdeen, contractors’ emergency response teams, topside medical assistance providers, standby vessels and helicopter services. 

For more information, read our Report to Stakeholders and our Emergency Response Management section.

Regional Emergency Response

Collaboration with industry peers and emergency responders is a constant throughout our operations. Canadian Natural is part of the Regional Mutual Aid Emergency Response Organization, a formal partnership in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo that pools resources for emergency response. Through this partnership, we lend assistance across jurisdictional boundaries when required.

Our Emergency Response team in our oil sands operations provides full emergency response capability 24 hours per day. Their services include: fire prevention and 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 centre 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 kilometres of Horizon Highway.