Spill performance

Report Dec. 20, 2019

Spill performance


ExxonMobil limits spills from our operations by maintaining a strong focus on risk management, operations integrity and containment capabilities. We take a rigorous approach to managing the potential impacts of a spill on water or land.

Our spill prevention program establishes company-wide procedures for inspecting and maintaining equipment, training operators and conducting practice drills. If a spill does occur, we conduct a rapid, comprehensive response to minimize impact on communities and the environment.

We employ specialized capabilities and procedures to improve offshore oil spill response and risk mitigation. ExxonMobil’s oil spill response research program is the industry’s only dedicated, in-house program, which includes a focus on cold-water and remote locations, such as the Arctic. We also participate in several joint industry projects to enhance the industry’s offshore spill response capability, including the following: 

  • American Petroleum Institute joint industry task force 
  • International Association of Oil and Gas Producers Arctic oil spill response technology joint industry program
  • IPIECA joint industry oil spill response project
  • Marine Well Containment Company

2018 performance and initiatives 

In 2018, ExxonMobil reported 11.3 thousand barrels of hydrocarbons spilled, with an estimated 70 percent recovered at the sites. The amount of hydrocarbons spilled increased from 6.9 thousand barrels in 2017. In our largest spill incident of 2018, 2,993 barrels of hydrocarbons spilled at our Fawley refinery, of which 2,893 barrels were recovered on site. We continually work to improve our spill performance through strategic efforts such as targeted equipment replacements and preventive maintenance.

Maintaining the integrity and safety of our wells is a critical element of managing spill performance. We prevent uncontrolled releases of natural gas liquids or crude oil through proper design, appropriate pressure controls and trained personnel. We regularly conduct well-control training sessions that include a combination of classroom discussion and simulation exercises. In addition to training programs, ExxonMobil researches and develops new technologies to improve well performance and prevent blowouts, which can occur when pressure control systems fail. We are studying two new offshore drilling technologies. One involves using high-pressure seawater and another involves using a polymer plug to stop the flow of fluids in the event of a pressure change. In 2018, we completed testing of the polymer plug concept. We also conducted computer modeling simulations to show that we can successfully develop enough pressure in a well using seawater to stop fluid flow if needed.

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