International Key Players

International key players in the oil and maritime industries, intergovernmental bodies and specific centres of excellence often work together to share experiences and develop guidelines for best practice in responding to oil affected wildlife. The groups listed below have used their influence to actively enhance the process of accepting that oiled wildlife response and preparedness needs to be fully integrated into existing response plans and preparedness programmes for marine pollution incidents.

As understanding of the impacts of Hazardous and Noxious Substances (HNS) and anthropogenic noise on marine wildlife become clearer, these same key players are likely to be at the forefront of working to mitigate these potential impacts and develop best practice guidelines for response to incidents.

The Oil Industry

Oil companies have a long tradition in oil spill planning and response. In the majority of countries where oil companies are active, contingency plans are required before any exploration activity can commence. In some countries, the oil industry is responsible for all aspects of oil spill response and preparedness, under the supervision of the competent national authorities.

Internationally operating oil companies have set up organisations to take care of common global issues. With regards to oil pollution, preparedness and response the International Petroleum Industry Environmental Association (IPIECA) and Oil Spill Response are the most important.

International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association (IPIECA)

The International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association (IPIECA), the umbrella under which a large number of oil companies cooperate on global environmental issues, coordinates oil spill preparedness and response actions for its members. Through IPIECA, they work together to develop best practices and encourage national authorities to adopt and implement them.

The Oil Spill Working Group is a group of oil companies and oil spill specialists coordinated by IPIECA. It meets several times a year to identify trends, set up joint programmes and activities, and produce reports on good practice in the various fields of oil spill response. In 2004, IPIECA developed and produced the Guide to Oiled Wildlife Response Planning in cooperation with Sea Alarm.

Oil Spill Response

Oil Spill Response is a private company that is owned and funded by a large number of shareholders, including the largest internationally operating oil companies. It is specialised in global oil spill response and has developed a range of services that are available to its shareholders and third parties, including a 24/7 notification centre, stockpiles of equipment, response services, training and consultancies.

In 2005, the remit of Oil Spill Response was extended to include preparedness for oiled wildlife responses. A joint programme, carried out by Oil Spill Response and Sea Alarm, is composed of five main components: 

  • Developing an information base including Country Wildlife Response Profiles that can be consulted in case of an incident (to date including information on 50+ coastal countries)

  • Advocacy: promoting oiled wildlife response planning; assisting countries and NGOs in developing national response plans; and developing regional response programmes

  • Emergency preparedness, including: 24/7 availability of services, developing wildlife response preparedness involving leading response groups, and training of responders

  • Stocks of wildlife response equipment at OSR bases (Southampton, Singapore, Bahrain).

The Maritime Industry

Although there is often a clear connection between oil spills at sea and maritime transportation, oil spill response and preparedness are not centrally coordinated by the maritime industry the way they are within the oil industry. There is, however, a lot of interest within this sector in clean and safe transport, the prevention of oil spills and oil spill response preparedness.

International Association of Independent Tanker Owners (INTERTANKO)

The International Association of Independent Tanker Owners (INTERTANKO), the voice of independent tanker ship owners since 1970, ensures that oil is shipped safely, responsibly and competitively. It is an independent tanker owner and operator forum (i.e. non-oil companies and non-state controlled tanker owners) where the industry meets and policies are discussed. As of January 2012, the organisation had 235 members, whose combined fleet comprises some 3,3800 tankers. INTERTANKO's associate membership stands at some 320 companies with an interest in shipping of oil and chemicals.

Protection and Indemnity (P&I) Clubs

Protection and Indemnity (P&I) Clubs are independent, non-profit making associations (or "Clubs"), which insure their ship owner members against third-party liabilities, including oil pollution.  Each Club bears the first part of any claim but large claims are pooled by the major P&I Clubs that are members of the International Group (see the list of P&I Clubs within the International Group below) and further insurance may be available in rare, catastrophic cases.

Each P&I Club has full-time managers who deal with the day-to-day business of the Club. They are assisted by a worldwide network of commercial representatives (correspondents) who act as the Club's local contact at the site of an incident. The International Group of P&I Clubs are:


International Salvage Union

Leading salvage companies have set up the International Salvage Union (ISU) as an umbrella organisation to foster a wider understanding of the salvage industry's contribution to environmental protection and the recovery of property, and to promote efficient performance of salvage and pollution prevention services. International Salvage Union (ISU) members provide essential services for the world's maritime and insurance communities. The members of ISU are engaged in marine casualty response, pollution defence, wreck removal, cargo recovery, towage and related activities.

Centres of Excellence

There are a few not-for-profit organisations that are specialised in oil spill response and preparedness who provide a wealth of knowledge and understanding in the various issues.

International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation (ITOPF)

The International Tanker Owner Pollution Federation (ITOPF) is a key international player in the field of oil spill response and preparedness. ITOPF responds to ship-source spills anywhere in the world on behalf of Members (tanker owners) or Associates (other ship owners) and their oil pollution insurers (normally one of the P&I Clubs). Services may be provided at the request of governments or international agencies such as the International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund (IOPC). Other services provided include damage assessment, contingency planning, training and the provision of information. ITOPF maintains an extensive library, a number of databases, and produces technical publications and videos.

Centre of Documentation, Research and Experimentation on Accidental Water Pollution (CEDRE)

CEDRE is a non-profit-making association acting as an operator for the French State. It was created in 1978, in the aftermath of the Amoco Cadiz oil spill, in order to be more fully prepared for accidental water pollution and to strengthen the national response organisation. It is responsible, on a national scale, for documentation, research and experimentation on pollutants, their effects and the response means and tools that can be used to combat them. Its role is as an advisory body and its expertise encompasses both marine and inland waters. It is financed both by government subsidies and by public and private contracts.

Intergovernmental Organisations

Intergovernmental organisations are bodies that have been set up by governments and are governed by an assembly of the countries that have signed the underlying international convention, the Contracting Parties.

International Oil Pollution Compensation Funds (IOPC Funds)

The International Oil Pollution Compensation Funds (IOPC Funds) are two funds (the 1992 Fund and the Supplementary Fund), which provide compensation for oil pollution damage resulting from spills of persistent oil from tankers. These two funds, which have a joint secretariat in London, were established at different times, have different maximum amounts of compensation and have different Member States. The first international fund (the 1971 Fund) has been closed.

Claims for pollution damage from a tanker incident in the waters of a Contracting Party are sent to the IOPC Funds for financial compensation. Information on the types of claims which are admissible is available in the Claims Manuals. The IOPC Funds work closely together with the P&I Club of the ship that has caused the pollution, to deal with the claims received. See the compensation section for more details.