CGA is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, oil spill cooperatives in the nation. Formed in 1972 by 33 operators, it is the largest Gulf-based non-profit oil spill cooperative. CGA is dedicated to the Gulf of Mexico’s exploration and production (E&P) industry and the sole purpose for its existence is to provide resources and personnel to respond to oil spills for our membership. Currently, the CGA equipment is owned by the corporation and is maintained and operated by the current equipment contractor, Clean Gulf Associates Services, LLC (CGAS). By maintaining equipment and personnel to respond, CGA allows our membership to meet regulatory requirements as set forth by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE).
CGA maintains a comprehensive suite of oil spill mitigation and marine wildlife rehabilitation equipment and personnel ready to respond to an oil spill anywhere in the Gulf of Mexico. CGA has the largest and most versatile GOM spill response inventory, with the capability to respond to offshore, nearshore, and inshore oil spill threats by various means including mechanical recovery, in situ burning, and dispersant services. Our layered approach provides for comprehensive spill coverage. Some equipment highlights include:
• CGA has in inventory the largest purpose built skimmer, the High Volume Open Sea Skimming System (HOSS)
• CGA has by contract the most capable offshore skimming system, Koseq Arms, with the ability to operate in 9’ seas
• CGA’s boom barge is the only purpose-built offshore boom deployment system
• CGA has in inventory 95’ OSRVs and the HOSS Barge, equipped with state-of-the-art military-grade oil surveillance and detection systems
• By contract CGA has the only purpose built dispersant spray aircraft, the Basler BT-67
• Dedicated aerial surveillance aircraft
• World-class mobile wildlife rehabilitation equipment designed by wildlife experts
Several features set us apart, the most prominent being the unique oil spill response focus on offshore exploration and production in the Gulf of Mexico. By staying focused on E&P production members and their response needs, CGA equipment is specifically tailored for the types of oil that would be encountered in the various open water environments including offshore, near shore, and to a limited extent inshore response. Because of this unwavering dedication to this industry and region, we’re more specialized and better equipped to respond to oil spills in an area with which we’re particularly familiar.
In addition, as a matter of operational policy, we’re also committed to openly communicating non-sensitive, non-proprietary incident, exercise, and capability news and information regarding our personnel, equipment, and technology. We firmly believe that this type of accessibility is key to successfully serving both our membership and the general public.
CGA is also committed to providing cost effective response services, and giving credit to our membership for their support. CGA members receive dues credit for the use of CGA equipment, thereby reducing response costs to a member company. They are also not charged markups on their cooperative-owned response equipment.
In January 2013, CGA entered into an agreement with CGAS, an affiliate of The Teichman Group, LLC of Galveston, Texas. Under the terms of our contract, CGA owns its oil spill response equipment, while CGAS stores, maintains, and staffs response personnel to operate it. They provide the safest and most experienced oil spill responders in the Gulf of Mexico.
TTMS is one of the premier salvage companies in the world, and is also a highly respected Gulf of Mexico spill response company. The company has expanded out of the Gulf of Mexico and now offers its service worldwide. TTMS owns state-of-the-art portable salvage and firefighting equipment capable of being dispatched anywhere in the world on a moment’s notice. The equipment is packaged so it can be easily transported by air, land, or sea. With 15 locations in the U.S, Europe, and Asia, TTMS can respond immediately to any emergency. A contract with TTMS gives CGA the capability to provide timely and reliable response to large spills by means of high volume mechanical recovery equipment—including 11 sets of Koseq rigid sweeping arm skimming systems, as well as salvage and firefighting equipment.
Since the early 1990’s, Houma, LA-based ASI has been a provider of aerial dispersant services. For CGA, they offer timely and reliable aerial dispersant application service anywhere in the Gulf of Mexico, by means of a modern turbo propeller-driven Basler BT-67 and two DC-3 aircraft, as well as spotter aircraft. They feature the most experienced aircrews and maintenance staff for aerial dispersant operations.
CGAS created PRO as a network of highly professional oil spill response service providers to work hand-in-hand with CGAS employees during a response. This program requires other oil spill response organizations to meet specific criteria as it relates to safety and training, and to sign an agreement with CGAS. In turn CGAS provides equipment-specific training to these company personnel, enabling them to operate CGA equipment or assist CGAS in the operation of the equipment.
Dispersants are products used in oil spill response to enhance microbial degradation, a naturally occurring process where microorganisms remove oil from the environment. For more information regarding dispersants, go here.
Scientists have been studying the effects of dispersants on the marine environment for over 30 years, and are still actively engaged in dispersant research, development, and innovation. Dispersants are often considered a first response option in a number of countries around the world. In the US, dispersants are typically considered for offshore oil spills when surface slicks become too large for effective containment by boom, when the spill is located far from stockpiles of mechanical recovery equipment, or when the sea state prevents, or will soon prevent, the use of other response options. Dispersants can be used under a wide variety of conditions since they are generally not subject to the same operational and sea state limitations as the other two main response tools: mechanical recovery (vessel skimming systems, etc.) and burning in place (also known as in-situ burning). While mechanical recovery may be the best option for small, near-shore spills—which are by far the majority—it has only recovered a small fraction of large offshore spills in the past, and requires calmer sea state conditions that are not needed for dispersant application. For more information concerning the use of dispersants, go here.
No company can use dispersants on its own without the approval of the federal government. During an incident, The National Contingency Plan (40 CFR 300) directs the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to approve the dispersants that may be used for oil spills, e.g., create a list of approved dispersants; the Regional Response Team (RRT) represented by the natural resource trustees and the states designates areas where dispersants may be used, and the U.S. Coast Guard Federal On-Scene Coordinator (FOSC) approves dispersant use for oil spills in the coastal zone on a case-by-case basis. In essence, dispersant use is a government-sanctioned and approved operation to combat oil spills. For more information, go here.
After receiving authorization by the appropriate government authorities, there are several ways in which dispersants can be operationally applied to oil spills. Historically in the U.S., on the fixed wing aircraft and vessels have been used to apply dispersants on the surface of the ocean. Also, dispersants have been applied using subsurface devices below the surface of the ocean. There are advantages and disadvantages of application types; more information can be found here.
Modern dispersants are formulated to be safer for use in the environment than early formulations. Dispersants are less toxic than crude oil, and adding dispersant at the appropriate application ratios does not increase the toxicity of the oil (EPA online, 2011). Most dispersants are also biodegradable and contain ingredients similar to those found in many common household soaps, cosmetics, detergents, shampoos and even food (Fabisiak and Goldstein, 2012).
For the public, there are no likely sources of exposure to dispersants or dispersed oil. Because dispersant operations are typically carried out more than three miles from shore, contact with dispersant spray itself or significant inhalation of fumes by those on shore is unlikely. The safety of the public is maximized if people avoid contact with oiled areas and avoid handling items that have oil or oil-like sprays on them. Since dispersants serve to remove oil slicks from the water surface, their use will keep oil away from shorelines, therefore limiting the possibility of public exposure.
For more information concerning Human Health and safety with regard to dispersants, go here.