Anti-Pollution Measures: Preparedness, and Response

Marine firefighters demonstrate oil spill response equipment

We believe that prevention is the best response to pollution. By anticipating pollution risks, we can more effectively prepare for them and respond immediately in the event of an emergency. We are engaged in an improvement process based on accident analysis, experience sharing and real-life drills.

Why it matters

Oil and gas operations pose specific environmental risks. Accidental pollution can have serious consequences for both the environment and a company's business performance, which is why a quick response is important for mitigating potential community and environmental impacts. At Total, protecting the population and ecosystems of our host regions is a top priority. It is key to maintaining the trust of the local communities on which our operations depend.

A core component of our operations: risk prevention

Risk prevention lies at the heart of our operations. All new industrial projects are submitted to a Risk Committee, which brings together representatives from the relevant departments. The Committee analyzes the environmental hazards of each of our projects, as well as their impact on the health of the local population, while also taking into account community engagement concerns. Once projects are reviewed by the Risk Committee, they are ready to be submitted to the Executive Committee for approval. 

At the local level, prevention involves conducting a detailed assessment of the specific risks of accidental pollution at each of our sites. To reduce these risks and limit environmental impacts, we focus in particular on:
  • Designing equipment that is safer, more reliable and more efficient.
  • Maintaining and inspecting equipment and facilities.
  • Using monitoring and control systems to rapidly detect problems, especially leaks.
  • Selecting means of transportation and routes that limit the risk of accidents.

All employees are made aware of industrial risk. This Group-wide safety culture is reinforced by the involvement of all teams in real-time crisis simulations.

Being Prepared to Take Action

In November 2013, we conducted a full-blown crisis exercise simulating a deep offshore spill in Angola. The drill, code-named Lula, took a year to prepare and was carried out together with the local authorities and various industrial partners. Significant human resources and equipment were deployed over a three-day period, including satellite images, drifters, boats, a plane, helicopters, as well as teams in Luanda, Angola and Paris, France.


Thanks to Lula, we were able to evaluate our emergency response capabilities under real-life conditions and test several innovative technologies for the first time.

Our plans and resources for responding to an emergency

Pollution control plans have been developed to assist our teams in the event of an accidental oil spill.
 
Regularly reviewed and tested as part of drills, these plans are site-specific, ensuring an appropriate response to any emergency. They set out the procedures and special equipment to be used depending on whether the response strategy focuses on coastal protection, dispersion, containment and recovery or another technique.
 
Our teams also receive special training from approved organizations to ensure they are always ready to respond. Depending on the severity of the accident, we receive support from organizations specialized in pollution control, such as Oil Spill Response Limited (OSRL) and CEDREa French organization that conducts research into accidental water pollution. These organizations provide the expertise, resources and, if necessary, the equipment needed in all of our host regions.

FOST: Total's Response Base for Europe and West Africa

Marine firefighters demonstrate oil spill response equipment

In 1991, Total established an oil spill assistance and response base in southern France, near Marseille. The Fast Oil Spill Team (FOST), which includes some of the most able firefighters from the Marseille fire brigade, can respond immediately to emergencies off the coast of Europe and West Africa. FOST has initial response equipment that can be used alongside the site’s own resources in the event of an accidental spill. Backed by a high level of expertise, FOST is the ideal provider of know-how to local teams via technical support, training and emergency drills.

Leveraging feedback from experience

Identifying and analyzing the causes of an incident or accident helps prevent their recurrence and better prepare for a similar event. This information will also enable the implementation of appropriate means to limit their consequences. Beyond the Group's scope alone, we study and analyze in depth high-potential incidents and accidents throughout the energy sector. Then, in collaboration with other players in the profession, we use this feedback to draw all the necessary lessons and adopt the resulting best practices.

Deepwater Horizon: Lessons Learned

Following the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion in the Macondo oil field operated by BP in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, we took precautionary measures to avoid a similar accident from happening at our facilities. Three task forces were set up to analyze the risks and mitigate them as effectively as possible. The first group was dedicated to deepwater drilling safety, the second to deep offshore oil recovery and the third to accidental spill prevention. Their work has enabled us to devise various solutions for curtailing risks. For example, we have revised our technical guidelines for deepwater drilling and increased the number of targeted training programs. We have developed new well plugging and surface recovery methods. And, where necessary, we have adopted new well intervention methods, enhanced our subsea dispersant injection capabilities, implemented new modeling tools for tracking oil spills and improved our crisis management program.

We work closely with CEDRE

Preventing and managing accidental water pollution

We are a member of OSRL

An industry cooperative founded to respond to offshore oil spills