Client: BP Exploration Operating Company
Environmental and Socio-economic Sensitivity Mapping for Oil Spill Preparedness and Response (OSPR)
In 2014 BP comissioned RS Environmental Ltd to develop an interactive environmental and socio-economic
sensitivity map for the North Sea Region. The deliverable is primarily used for oil spill preparedness and response but is also used to support BP operations by informing environmental
assessments required for operational permit applications (e.g. chemical permits, marine survey applications).
Using a geographical information system (GIS) the most current information describing the spatial
distribution of features sensitive to oil pollution was mapped. These include shoreline types, protected areas, biological resources (birds, fish, marine mammals) and socio-economic
resources (aquaculture, fisheries, energy industries, transport, recreation and cultural heritage). The relative sensitivity to oil for each receptor was then determined as a function of intolerance
to oil and recoverability.
One key project deliverable was an Environmental Sensitivity Index (ESI) map of Scotland's northern and
eastern coastline, including Shetland and Orkney. The ESI system is widely used for oil spill contingency planning around the world but had previously never been developed for significant
stretches of the UK coastline. RS Environmental Ltd developed an innovative approach to classify the Scottish coastline based on substrate type, exposure to waves and currents, and shoreline
slope. This method has been adopted by the UK Oil Spill Response Forum (OSRF).