The BP Deepwater Horizon incident in 2010 reaffirmed the importance of continually developing and improving risk management, operations integrity, spill prevention processes, and containment capabilities. Our own spill prevention programs seek to strengthen procedures, build in layers of protection, inspect and maintain equipment, train operators, and conduct tests and drills.
Unfortunately, in 2011, we did not meet our expectation of continued improvement regarding spill performance. A pipeline breach in Montana resulted in an estimated 1,509 barrels of oil being released into the Yellowstone River. This incident brought the total volume of hydrocarbons spilled to land or water in 2011 to about 18 thousand barrels, with nearly 75 percent recovered at the site of the spill. The number of nonmarine hydrocarbon spills greater than 1 barrel in 2011 was 73 percent higher than in 2007 and 108 percent higher than 2010.
XTO Energy, Inc. (XTO) is already benefiting from the implementation of Operations Integrity Management System (OIMS) and incorporation of ExxonMobil’s best practices in environmental management. The total volume spilled by XTO was 58 percent lower in 2011 compared to 2010.
In 2011, we continued our implementation of the downstream Global Human Factors Best Practice Guide in order to instill a zero-spill mindset across ExxonMobil. The Guide outlines 17 high-risk elements and corresponding procedures to reduce the likelihood of a human-caused spill. This initiative is helping us effectively address refinery spills caused by human factors, which are down more than 40 percent over the past four years. We are also using a specialized risk tool to identify infrastructure in need of upgrades to help us further avoid spills. We are focusing in 2012 on improvement measures at those refining sites with the highest spill rates.
Marine vessel spill performance
During 2011, vessels owned and operated by ExxonMobil’s marine affiliates surpassed more than five years without any spills to water greater than 1 barrel. There were no spills from long-term chartered ships in 2011. This marine fleet of more than 650 vessels in daily service logged 25,000 voyages in 2011 and safely transported more than 1.8 billion barrels of crude oil and refined products globally.
Technological innovation in oil spill response
The first component of protecting the environment during offshore production is preventing spills from happening. In order to be prepared in case a spill occurs, we are working to make efficient containment equipment and dispersants readily available.