Witt O Briens Teams Introduce Virtual Incident Management Exercises During COVID 19 1170x400

Witt O'Brien's Teams Introduce Virtual Incident Management Exercises During COVID-19

Articles & Insights Jun 01 2020

Much like other oil and gas exercises, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) exercises serve as a vital oil spill preparedness activity for any oil and gas company and its regulated community. These exercises allow for the training and practice of strategic and tactical preparedness, protection, response and recovery capabilities in a risk-reduced environment. They also provide both industry and regulators with a means to assess preparedness and identify areas for improvement so that gaps, deficiencies and vulnerabilities are addressed prior to any real oil spill or discharge incident.

Typically, Witt O’Brien’s conducts these exercises in person – acting as part of or the entire Incident Management Team in order to meet BSEE’s 30 CFR Part 254 regulations for its oil and gas clients. With the outbreak of COVID-19, our team took it upon themselves to develop a fully virtual spill response exercise to make certain that offshore operators meet their preparedness requirements.

The first virtual Gulf of Mexico exercise, led by members of our firm’s Incident Management Team, included representatives from the operator/responsible party “RP” – a mid-tier offshore E&P company, BSEE, J Connor & Associates (exercise facilitator), Clean Gulf Associates (Oil Spill Removal Organization) and other agency representatives who participated as observers. The exercise simulated a source control issue resulting in an environmental incident with oil released into the Gulf of Mexico.

Witt O’Brien’s filled all Command and General Staff positions, leading the virtual exercise discussion over tactical operations and decision making commensurate with the simulated incident taking place offshore. Our propriety software CommandPro® was utilized for the incident management documentation and incident briefing visuals, as well as the use of animated trajectory modeling software. Our Incident Management Team effectively worked through the stated exercise objectives including crisis communications services in concert with the USCG, RP and other stakeholders.

This initial virtual exercise is the first of dozens that our Incident Management Team will lead over the coming months while stay-at-home orders continue throughout the US.


With more than three decades of experience, we've managed thousands of incidents for utilities and oil and gas companies—from Deepwater Horizon to small events on a rig. We create and support thousands of plans each year, building muscle memory with training and exercises. We’re also leaders in preparedness-related compliance and maintain close working relations with the key regulators. Please contact us for information on our services, including virtual exercises.

Bob Patterson
Bob Patterson

Bob Patterson, Managing Director, Oil & Gas

Bob’s broad commercial experience is focused on keeping businesses operating smoothly by understanding the threats they face and putting in place the plans, the people and the resources to be able to withstand shocks of all kinds.

In 30 years, Bob’s strategies for operational resilience including crisis management have helped industries as diverse as including energy, manufacturing, investment banking and financial services.

Today, Bob, is responsible for engaging clients in the energy sector, bringing his experience to bear on improving their operational resilience.