Letters to members

Letter to Corporate Members and Industry Partners

June 2021

Dear Members,

We are pleased to be able to report good progress on the creation of the new directory of supplies and services.

Please click on http://spillcontrol.org/directory-entry-questionnaire/

  • To continue with work on your free entry we do need your feedback, so please complete the form and send it in.
  • If we have not included a tick box for a product or service you provide, please tell us and we can add it to your entry.
  • You are invited to provide a short paragraph to introduce your company to potential customers. See Section 6.
  • In an exciting new development, the new directory will have a search facility. Users will be able to simply enter what they are looking for and, if it’s something you provide, they will see your entry with all your info.
  • We will be promoting the new directory, giving it much higher visibility to your clients – on our website, at exhibitions, in our weekly newsletter and in other publications.
  • Need help? Have a question or want to comment? Drop a line to [email protected]

Circulation restricted to Corporate Members of ISCO


Dear Corporate Members of ISCO,

ISCO has introduced new advertising opportunities which will be available on the ISCO website and our weekly email newsletter.

The ISCO website at www.spillcontrol.org enjoys high traffic figures and is the primary port of call for visitors seeking information about oil and chemical spill response. The free weekly ISCO Newsletter circulates to an estimated 5,000 + readers in over 55 countries. For advertisers with an interest in marketing to the pollution response industry ISCO provides a unique and very highly targeted way of reaching out to your potential customers all over the world.

We have created a media pack which we can send which highlights the opportunities and the costs.

If you would like a copy of the media pack please contact Mike Watson on [email protected] and he will send it to you.

With my best regards,

Neil Marson, Secretary



20th March, 2021

Dear All,

The last twelve months have been a challenging time for all of us, both in our work and home environment. The arrival of COVID 19 on the world forced everyone to seek other ways of conducting and delivering our business and significant temporary changes to our personal life. This required a re-think of how we live and work can be managed; this saw the introduction of new ways to communicate with each other and how organisations and individuals can communicate by the use of online meetings instead of the traditional face to face; these new ways of working have proven to be successful and are likely to now form the norm within companies.

Our last AGM held online in December 2020 was well attended. The online platform called Zoom worked well and it was agreed that, going forward, regular monthly Zoom meetings would be held. All members were invited to attend with details of times and how to join by letter to members and notices published in our weekly newsletter.

Much has happened since then. A major outcome of the online meetings has been the formation of a “Way Forward” volunteer working group. This Volunteer Group includes virtually every member of the Executive Committee, several Members of ISCO Council, many Members and a few other interested individuals. Currently there are 37 members in the Volunteer Group and good progress is being made in developing ideas and a forward action programme for developing the organisation and growing its membership.

At the February 25th meeting Matthew Somerville thanked Members for their support during his three year tenure and welcomed me as ISCO’s new Secretary General. I look forward to meeting the challenges of the position and getting to know our members.

More recent developments include the creation of a shared communication platform for the Volunteer Group to exchange ideas and share work being done to fulfil our action programme. The new platform should become operational in the very near future.

We need to be able to restore face-to-face meetings soon, and ISCO recognises the importance of such events. We are therefore adopting a new strategy with the introduction of ISCO Ambassadors, who will be appointed to formally represent ISCO under the guardianship of the ISCO Secretariat.

ISCO Ambassadors can be appointed on either a temporary basis to undertake a specific activity task, for example supporting ISCO at an International event, or on a more permanent basis acting as liaison officer between ISCO and other Governmental and NGO groups. These roles will be instrumental in promoting the work of ISCO and in conjunction with the national ISCO Council Members to work to strengthen the membership within their areas.

ISCO recognises the importance of its membership, and like other similar organisations requires a strong membership to fully function and provide the platform for the promotion of ISCO’s aims to raise worldwide preparedness and co-operation in response to oil and chemical spills, to promote technical development and professional competency, and to provide a focus for making the knowledge and experience of spill control professionals available to IMO, UNEP, other international, regional and national organisations

As we move forwards with these new developments our ISCO Newsletter editor will do his best to keep you up-to-date with progress in the ISCO News section of our newsletter. I shall also write to you from time to time but please do not hesitate to get in touch with me if there any matters on which I may be able to assist.

With my best regards

Neil Marson, Secretary-General.


Our next Zoom Meeting will be on Thursday 25th March at 1500 EDT and 1900 GMT or Friday 26th March at 0600 AEDT (or the equivalent date and time in your own region).  Note: Around this time some regions may be changing to Daylight Saving Time, so please double check to make sure you have the correct time for your area – The meeting is being hosted in Detroit and the actual time of the meeting will be 1500 EDT.

Link for joining our Zoom Meeting: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89957845921  Meeting ID: 899 5784 5921

The meeting will last for approximately one hour and will be hosted by ISCO VP(Membership) Mary Ann Dalgleish.

The Agenda is not fixed but S-G Neil Marson will speak about the new Ambassadors Initiative. Other topics will include the new sharing platform for the “Way Forward” Volunteer Group and progress made since our February meeting.  

12th February 2021

Dear Members,

Appointment of ISCO Secretary

As you will be aware ISCO Secretary Matthew Sommerville at our December 2020 AGM announced his intention to stand down after 3 years from the role of Secretary, although he will still be an active supporter of ISCO to concentrate on other projects. 

We are pleased to announce that Mr Neil Marson has expressed interest in taking on the role and has been supported in this and has been duly selected and approved by the Chairman and Executive Committee as the successor to Mr Matthew Sommerville. 

For those who don’t know Neil.  

Over a career spanning more than 30 years he has worked both in government and private industry including  extensive operations management, national contingency planning development and  involved in the design and presentation of training courses, notably for HM Coastguard, European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) and oil majors.   He has served as Country Manager Egypt for Briggs and as Senior Consultant for assignments in Libya, Kazakhstan, Qatar, and India.   

He has recently retired from his last role as Regional Manager in charge of the Briggs Caspian Regional Tier 2 Oil Spill Response Base in Baku, Azerbaijan  where he has been stationed since 2013.  In this last he was responsible for and supported by a Team of 50 skilled professional Oil Spill Responders, and 65 Fire-Fighters and working on behalf of several International clients in support of their oil and gas exploration and production projects.  Additional duties included the provision of Crisis Management and Oil Spill Response Training to external organisations within the Region. 

Given the restrictions of Covid 19 we will not be able to meet physically with Neil to congratulate him in the new role with ISCO but will pass the baton virtually and publicly in the next scheduled ISCO Zoom meeting on 25th Feb.   

The Chairman Dave Usher proposes that in recognition of his support of ISCO and valuable service as Secretary Mr Sommerville be elected as an Honorary Fellow (Hon.FISCO) of the organization. 

With best regards

John McMurtrie 


[email protected]

14th December 2020

Dear Members of ISCO,

I hope to see many of you at the upcoming Online AGM being conducted on Zoom. Please find below the instructions for joining the Meeting.


20:00 GMT / 15:00 EST. Friday 18th December 2020 07:00 AEDT Saturday 19th December 2020 

Because of Coronavirus restrictions it will be a “virtual meeting” held using Zoom All are invited to join ISCO’s 2020 Annual General Meeting but only Members can vote. If you haven’t used Zoom before, you will need to download a small piece of software in advance of the meeting time at – https://zoom.us/download#client_4meeting

 There is no cost involved in using Zoom and joining the meeting. You can join the meeting by simply clicking on the following link – https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82706703871?pwd=NnU2d3Z6aUlqM2R6N2NaYVpOelJ6QT09

Just click this link shortly before the meeting start time and wait for the Meeting to start The Meeting will be chaired in Detroit by Mary Ann Dalgleish, ISCO VP (Membership).

The Agenda and other information has been published in ISCO Newsletter 766

With best regards

John McMurtrie

pp. Secretariat

22nd November 2020


Dear Member of ISCO

I am writing to let you know that the ISCO 2020 AGM will take place soon and to send you the Notice of Meeting, Agenda and other meeting papers.

Because of the Coronavirus situation, this year’s AGM will be a virtual meeting.

A further email will be sent later with detailed advice on how to join the meeting

Here is the link for you to download the PDF file with the Agenda and meeting papers


Please review the Agenda and should you wish to submit any comments on the issues raised please send me an email at [email protected]

With best regards

Matthew Sommerville


9th November 2020

Dear All,

I am writing to let you know that ISCO Secretary, Matthew Sommerville, has intimated to me that he wishes to stand down from his position as the Secretary of ISCO.

As you may know, Matthew operates his own consultancy company – Spectrum Spill Services Ltd. – and, owing to an increasingly heavy workload of consultancy work, he feels that he is no longer able to give ISCO the time and attention commensurate with fulfilling his duties as Secretary.

Matthew wishes to formally announce his intention to stand down at the next ISCO AGM to allow time to identify and transfer the responsibilities to a successor in time for the 2021 AGM. Currently he is working to complete on the accounts for submission to our auditors and is preparing the draft agenda for the 2020 AGM.

Personally, I am very disappointed to have to relay this news. Matthew’s background and experience made him an ideal choice. He has had more than 36 years’ experience in the oil spill response industry. He worked with the UK Government’s Warren Spring Laboratory for nine years on spill response research projects and over many years has attended many of the world’s largest oil spill incidents. He also gained valuable industry experience and has held senior positions with Briggs Marine, NRC, OSRL, Aramco, IOPC Funds and Shell. He also served as Chairman of the IMarEST Marine Pollution Special Interest Group and has represented ISCO at IMO (MEPC and PPR meetings) and at IOPC Funds.

It is not going to be easy to find a successor for Matthew. ISCO does not have the funds to pay a salary and is only able to cover travel and other expenses incurred in fulfilling duties of the position. The job demands high qualities of leadership and the ability to develop new initiatives to grow the value of ISCO membership. There are also several administrative tasks, including correspondence and website management. Perhaps it will be necessary to split the responsibilities between more than one individual.

The Secretariat has now begun the process of looking for nominations for the appointment of a new Secretary. Members are invited to submit proposals.

Regarding the 2020 AGM, in the current situation a face-to-face meeting will not be possible. Options could include an online meeting (Zoom or similar). The Secretariat is working on this and more information will be released as soon as possible.

With best regards,

John McMurtrie, Member of Executive Committee

Letters to members

12th April 2017

Dear Members of ISCO,

IOSC Conference at Long Beach, California, USA – Notice of AGM Meeting, RESPONSECON presentation and other news from the ISCO Secretariat

TUESDAY 16th MAY – Presentation on the new RESPONSECON Standard Contract for Spill Response and Reception being hosted by ISCO, Spill Control Association of America (SCAA) and Association of Petroleum Industry Cooperative Managers (APICOM)

You are invited to a presentation on the new International Spill Response Contract taking place at 5 pm on Tuesday 16th May in room 101A in the IOSC Convention Centre. The presentation will be given by Mr Tony Paulson, Director of the West of England P&I Club and Chairman of the joint ISCO-BIMCO Working Group. The presentation will be followed by a food and refreshments reception jointly hosted by ISCO, SCAA and APICOM

Work on the development of the contract is now virtually complete with publication expected in summer, 2017. Participants in the WG have included not only representatives of ISCO and BIMCO but also those of the International Group of P&I Clubs, ITOPF, ISU, the Spill Control Association of America and other interested parties. A wide consultation exercise has also been conducted with other stakeholders.

The availability of the new International Response Contract will complement other initiatives designed to improve spill response mechanisms, including the recently published IMO Guidelines for International Offers of Assistance and ISCO’s Emergency Assistance facility for rapid sourcing of response resources.

More information on the new contract was published in issue 571 of the ISCO Newsletter which can be found at http://spillcontrol.org/2013-02-05-11-11-41/2013-02-05-11-26-54/doc_download/508-isco-571-newsletter

WEDNESDAY 17th MAY – ISCO 2017 Annual General Meeting

The ISCO 2017 AGM will be held at from 5 pm to 6.30 pm on Wednesday 17th May in Room 101A (same room as before) at the IOSC Convention Centre at Long Beach California. You will have the opportunity to meet members of the ISCO Committee and Council who will be attending the meeting.

After the AGM attendees are invited to join ISCO Corporate Member Marine Pollution Control’s 50th Anniversary Celebration Reception starting at 7pm in the Hyatt Hotel. The hotel is very close to the Convention Centre. There will be a jazz band, food and refreshments. More details will soon be published in the ISCO Newsletter.

ISCO Booth in Exhibition Area at IOSC Conference

The ISCO Booth is Number 408. ISCO representatives in attendance will include David Usher, John McMurtrie, Matthew Sommerville and Mary Ann Dalgleish. Please make a point of calling by to say hello.

Retirement of the Secretary of ISCO and Appointment of his Successor

It is now quite a while since I advised members of the Executive Committee of my intention to retire and stand down as the Secretary of ISCO. Over the last few months the Committee has been giving much thought to the matter of recruiting my successor.

I am pleased and relieved to be able to tell you that, following extended discussions, Matthew Sommerville has confirmed that he is willing to take on the task. Although he has only recently been seconded to the Executive Committee, Matthew has been part of the ISCO delegation at IOPC Funds for some time and has also supported our inputs at IMO. I know that he has a strong interest and commitment to ISCO. Matthew has more than 34 years’ experience in the spill response industry, with broad spectrum management experience and able to provide strategic direction and development. He has excellent communication skills and a network of contacts across the globe, including government and intergovernmental agencies, response organisations, manufacturers, insurers and research organisations. I believe that he has the ability, knowledge and enthusiasm to take ISCO forward. I am therefore recommending his appointment to take my place. ISCO President David Usher; other members of the Committee and ISCO Council have also expressed their support for Matthew taking on this position.

Matthew has developed a paper in which he presents his thoughts and ideas on options for ISCO’s future development. To download and read his paper please click on http://spillcontrol.org/images/ISCO_Evolution_and_Development_2017_300317.docx

The ISCO AGM during IOPC at Long Beach on May 17 has to fit within a 1.5 hour time slot, so time for discussion will be limited. For those of you who will be at the AGM, please review Matthew’s paper before the meeting and identify any particular points on which you may wish to comment. For those of you who cannot be at the AGM, please do the same and send me your thoughts in time for them to be circulated before the meeting.

As the main purpose of the meeting will be to introduce Matthew, formally endorse his appointment as the new Secretary, and discuss the future development of ISCO, I do not plan to send out a formal agenda and other meeting papers at this time.

Kind regards

John McMurtrie

18th February 2017

Dear Members of the ISCO Council,

It has been too long since I last wrote to you all but in view of changes coming up I wanted to bring you up-to-speed on some things that I haven’t covered in the ISCO News column in the ISCO Newsletter.

First of all, I am looking to retire as ISCO Secretary effective May 2017 when I will reach the age of 80. The Executive Committee is currently looking at appointing my successor and an announcement will be made in due course. I won’t exactly be “jumping ship” but will be starting the process of an orderly hand-over.

I would very much like to thank you for your valued support over the years. Without your help my task would have been much harder.

One thing that I want to do is to ensure that my successor continues to have your support. As individuals you have contributed in a variety of different ways –

• Making recommendations to the Executive Committee on policy and other matters
• Giving practical support to ISCO initiatives that are of benefit to our community
• Acting as a point of contact between ISCO and national authorities
• Organising “in-country” meetings of members
• Helping to grow the organisation by recruiting new members
• Publicising the aims and work of ISCO at national conferences
• Providing member benefits such as discounts on training courses, conference fees, etc.
• Supporting ISCO representation at in-country exhibitions
• Representing the organisation at international conferences, IMO and other meetings.
• Supporting working groups (ISCO, IMO, and others) on projects for improving spill response
• Providing technical articles, case histories, etc. for publication in the ISCO Newsletter
• Providing interesting news reports for inclusion in the ISCO Newsletter

This said, there are a few of you that have not been in touch for a while and, before the next AGM, I would like to hear from you. In past years members of council have automatically continued in office unless a wish to resign is advised. If any of you do not want to continue as a member of council, please let me know. It will be a great help if you can also make a recommendation for a suitable person who would be interested in representing your country on the ISCO Council.

Note that individual members of council are not expected to give support in ALL of the ways listed above – many of you have helped the organization in only a few ways – and this is appreciated.

The next ISCO AGM will be held during the International Oil Spill Conference being held at Long Beach, California on 15-18 May 2017.  More details will be published soon in the ISCO Newsletter. If you can make it, I shall hope to see you.

Kind regards

John McMurtrie


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