Licensing offshore oil and gas reserves in the United States waters are overseen by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Enforcement (BSEE). The licensing application includes planning for any worst-case oil spill scenario between BSEE and the applicant based on lessons learned from historic offshore spills such as the Deepwater Horizon (2010), Exxon Valdez (1989), and the Union Oil Platform Blowout (1969). The process for planning to respond to oil spills involves coordination with multiple agencies, trustees, and stakeholders to ensure that oil spill responses consider multiple factors, including ecologically sensitive species, commercial transportation and fisheries, tourism, and ongoing oil and gas industry activities. The modeling approach for decision-makers at BSEE combines evaluations of worst-case spill scenarios with multiple factors considered important by stakeholders in oil spill response planning. Several oil spill scenarios on the Southern California coast are evaluated to address the weight and balances of multiple value factors associated with worst-case discharge scenarios in the region. These models consider the current systems for predicting outcomes requiring both accurate trajectory analysis and functionality of simulations, to estimate the potential movement management of an oil spill. Factors affecting an oil spill’s severity and planned responses are then “weighted” to account for differences in case scenario, approaches to new regions, and stakeholder concerns in order to offer decision-makers ideas on the sensitivity and importance of each factor in overall responses to a spill.


Environmental Indicators and Impact Assessment | Environmental Sciences | Environmental Studies | Instructional Media Design | International and Area Studies | Marine Biology | Mining Engineering | Organization Development | Other Environmental Sciences | Other Oceanography and Atmospheric Sciences and Meteorology | Science and Technology Studies


Amoret Bunn

Lab site

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL)

Funding Acknowledgement

*This project has been made possible with support from Chevron (www.chevron.com) and the California State University STEM Teacher Researcher Program.



URL: https://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/star/390


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