The Merchant Shipping (Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Cooperation Convention) Regulations 1998 (SI 1988/1056) (as amended) state that UK ports, harbours and oil-handling facilities must submit for approval, oil spill contingency plans ('OSCP') to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency ('MCA'); or for responsible persons for offshore installations, Oil Pollution Emergency Plans ('OPEPs') to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy ('BEIS').

On 8 January 2018, a draft version of the new UK National Standard for Marine Oil Spill Response Providers was published for consultation. The consultation will run for two months from 8 January 2018 to 9 March 2018.

Through the implementation of a UK National Standard, the MCA and BEIS seek to ensure minimum standards are adhered to among providers of marine oil pollution response services. The UK Standard will be applied by any accrediting body which submits a proposed scheme of accreditation to the MCA and BEIS. The MCA and BEIS will only recognise providers accredited under approved schemes which apply the UK Standard, in their approval of OSCPs and OPEPs.

The Standard is in two parts: -

  1. Foundation Requirements- applicable to all providers. Providers must detail their overall capability in a Capability Statement and support this with good management practice, training and staff development processes and reliable contractual arrangements.

  2. Response Capability- providers must provide detail on their response capability for each category of response they propose to provide;

  • Dispersant Application- marine and/or air deployed;
  • Dispersant Application- offshore oil and gas activities;
  • Sheltered/Enclosed Waters- Ports, harbours, enclosed lochs etc.;
  • Coastal and Large Estuary- Exposed shorelines, large estuaries etc.;
  • Offshore waters- all unsheltered waters;
  • Offshore Oil and Gas Activities (including pipelines)- locations arising from releases of oil to sea during offshore oil and gas activities; and
  • Shoreline Clean Up- applicable to inter-tidal zones and includes all shoreline types.

Capability may be owned or contracted, both of which are subject to meeting both the foundation requirements and, if applicable, the category specific capability requirements.