MARPOL Advisory – When Should You Spill Your Oil? (humor)

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July 26, 2010

oil spill bird on gulf coast beachThis crane contributed to the development of this instruction manual

Before we go any further, please note:

If you are anywhere in or near the US Gulf of Mexico and you need to spill oil, DO SO NOW. Do not hesitate. Just dump it, report the oil to the US Coast Guard and deploy some booms. Send the bill to BP.

If you are within easy steaming distance of the US Gulf of Mexico, set your course for the gulf, then follow the above procedure.

The same rules apply if you are anywhere near the Bay of Bohai in China, except you should address the cost of cleanup to PetroChina. If they fail to pay, try BP there too.

If none of the above applies to your oil spill situation, you will need to follow a specific oil spill management programme. Good preparation for oil spills is key to ensuring a successful spill.

Rules of thumb for spill timing:

  • Do NOT spill in US waters during presidential election season. Nor election season for the US Senate, or House of Representatives. Nor state senate seats in any state affected by your spill. School board elections are probably safe.
  • If you are within spilling distance of waters inhabited by, or habitable for, walruses, guide your vessel there before spilling.
  • A fast spill (a “wad”) is preferable to a long, drawn-out and pathetic dribble of a spill. Instruct technical personnel appropriately.
  • If you can time your spill when passing another vessel or rig, do so. Then report the spill to authorities, targeting the other vessel. Prepare for a “he who smelt it, dealt it” defence from those you accuse.

With the dawn of new satellite technology that can detect oil spills, the oil spill timing picture grows more complicated. Fortunately, careful management of the spill, along with knowledge of the limitations of said technology, does not have to threaten your planned oil spill.

According to the EMSA, the satellites may be confused by “sea ice, turbulence generated by a ship propeller, rain, naturally occurring algae blooms, reduced wind speeds in wind shadow areas (behind an island or coastal mountains), fish and the egos of oil company executives”.

In other words, if you’re steaming through a major storm just off a rugged coastline in frigid waters with plenty of algae, screw the engines up to full and spill at will. Otherwise, just let it fly in high winds and hope the satellites are looking the other way.

FYI: It is considered highly impolite to spill oil at weddings, funerals, birthdays, bar mitzvahs, christenings, a brit milah, or at or around a major yachting competition.

We hope this oil spill instruction manual contributes to the future success of your oil spill.

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