Prevention requires continuous assessment and improvement in every phase of operation in which oil is produced, transported, stored, and marketed. Significant resources are invested in order to develop equipment specially designed to prevent oil spills during each phase.
Exploration and production facilities use advanced technologies and materials that incorporate multiple back-up safety systems, such as blowout preventers. Pipelines employ computers, electromagnetic instruments, and ultrasonic devices that detect and report vulnerabilities in order to proactively maintain and repair equipment. Tanker designs are constantly improving, and are now built with double hulls as an added measure of security. Storage tanks are constructed with leak prevention technology and special materials to withstand corrosion.
This equipment is vital to industry’s improved prevention effort, as spill incidents have declined from 246 in the 1970s to 33 in the 2000s. However, as long as there is the potential for a spill, industry will not be satisfied, and will continue to invest in innovative and more effective prevention equipment.