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Update on improvements to Vessels of Opportunity program

Release date:
5 July 2010

Today Doug Suttles, Chief Operating Officer of BP Exploration and Production, met with Vessels of Opportunity (VoO) participants to view operations and discuss a number of enhancements made to the VoO program. Through these modifications, the program will more effectively deploy boats to oil recovery activity and better utilize local commercial and charter fishing vessels to advance the effectiveness of the Gulf of Mexico response.

"The enhancements announced today will further strengthen the Vessels of Opportunity program, getting the right vessels into the fight in the fairest way possible." said Suttles. "We've listened carefully to those working on this important effort, and we appreciate the changes they've recommended. This program is an important piece of our efforts to make things right in the Gulf of Mexico. The hard work of those within the program continues to make a significant contribution to the response."

The operational characteristics developed by the U.S. Coast Guard and BP represent existing best practices and improvements suggested by program participants. Enhancements include:

  • Leveraging the local Branch offices, with boats within each Branch organized into response Task Forces and Strike Teams to meet key operational demands. The Task Forces report into the Branch operations, improving how we better bring resources into the response.
  • Improved air surveillance through the use of Tyndall Air Force Base.
  • Increased vessel rotation frequency, subject to operational needs.
  • Increased focus on local, in-state vessel sourcing.
  • Focused on commercial and charter fishing vessel use with the goal of better oil recovery; recreational craft will be used only when no suitable local commercial vessels are available.
  • Clarifying the operation pool size to ensure it is appropriate and includes the right type of vessels.

The Vessels of Opportunity program employs local commercial fishing vessels to assist in the company's response in the Gulf of Mexico and minimize the impact of the spill on the region's people, environment and economy. To date, over 3,000 vessels have been activated for duty through the program across four states – Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida.