Papua New Guinea is better equipped to respond to a major maritime incident resulting in a significant oil spill following a national oil spill response exercise in Port Moresby’s Fairfax Harbour. PNG’s National Maritime Safety Authority (NMSA) in cooperation with Oil Spill Response Ltd from Singapore led the exercise in November.

NMSA Executive Manager Maritime Operations, Captain Krzysztof Orlowski described the hypothetical disaster at the centre of the exercise: “ A container vessel proceeding to Motukea Wharf in Port Moresby experienced black out, temporarily lost control of the steering, and collided with bulk carrier MV Kumul Arrow anchored in Fairfax Harbour. The impact of collision led to damage of the MV Kumul Arrow’s hull and spillage of 1,000 tonnes of Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) from her fuel tank. One crew of the MV Kumul Arrow suffered a head injury and required immediate medivac ashore.”

Partnering with NMSA and Oil Spill Ltd in the exercise were, PNG MRCC, French Navy Ship D’Entrecasteaux, MV Kumul Arrow (chartered by Ok Tedi Mining), PNG Ports VTS, AES, St Johns Ambulance, Pacific Towing, and Puma Energy.

Captain Orlowski confirmed that the exercise was a great success with all participating entities working well together. He acknowledged the value of the theoretical training that had been conducted beforehand in terms of preparing everyone for the demands of the actual exercise, as well as the “professionalism and enthusiasm” of all participants. Captain Orlowski also confirmed that additional oil spill response exercises will be planned and budgeted for 2023.

One of the exercise participants, Gerard Kasnari, Marine Operations Manager – Pacific Towing, commented on the oil spill exercise saying that “both the theoretical and practical training were valuable in improving participants’ understanding of the different response techniques, and enhanced their appreciation of all aspects of oil spill response. As a result, I believe that we’re collectively much better prepared to handle a major spill here in PNG.”

The ‘Oil Spill Clearance – On Scene Commander (IMO Level 2 Equivalent)’ training was conducted by Oil Spill Response Ltd and was certified by the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency. [Thanks to Linda Van Leeuwen]

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