Members of the National Oil Spill Contingency Plan Committee, first responders and department heads are among some 60 persons being exposed to training, to effectively and efficiently respond to both onshore and offshore oil spills.The Incident Command Systems and Oil Spill Response three-day training workshop which is being held at the CDC’s Conference Room, Thomas Lands, is a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Natural Resources, ExxonMobil and the Civil Defence Commission (CDC).It seeks to improve the country’s national oil spill response capacity to ensure the well-organised development and deployment of systematic tools for command, control, and coordination of a multi-agency response to incidents. The course will provide the means to coordinate the efforts of individual agencies in their common goal toward the stabilisation of an incident and the protection of lives, property, and the environment.The training session is a standardised, on-scene, all-hazards approach to incident management and allows responders to adopt an integrated organisational structure to match the complexities and demands of the incident while respecting agency and jurisdictional authorities.At the opening ceremony today, Minister of State, Joseph Harmon noted that issues, such as oil spills, are a major concern for the government, given its emphasis on the creation and maintenance of a safe, healthy and sustainable environment within the context of its thrust of developing a green state and economy.“We, therefore, look forward to the production of our first oil and the subsequent exploitation of this valuable resource, but we are equally, if not more concerned about the preservation of our environment, the integrity of our coastline and the safety of our marine resources. Therefore, even as we place a greater emphasis on safety and prevention and mitigation of oil spills and its related consequences, we have to pay greater attention to these things not occurring,” Minister Harmon underscored.The State Minister who also has responsibility for Disaster Risk Management explained that the exercise is part of the government’s partnership with ExxonMobil to create an enabling environment for persons to benefit from various forms of training relevant to the oil and gas sector.He said that the administration is cognisant of the interest and in some cases unease that the citizenry has about of the consequences of a possible oil spill,’ as well as the potential dangers associated with the production of oil and gas. Minster Harmon, therefore, urged the agencies involved in the training exercise to keep the public fully informed of these and future similar activities.The session provides the working conditions that will see the coordination of efforts to ensure all responders are utilising standardised terminology, interoperable technologies, organisational structure, and management techniques. This allows any responder to have a common expectation and understanding of how agencies and departments will organise when working together in response to an incident.ExxonMobil’s Country Manager, Rod Henson said that the oil company was pleased to be a part of a training session that will help to strengthen Guyana’s national oil spill plan. “Those plans are evergreen, they always change and that’s normal and natural and we are happy to be a part of it and we are proud to help out this week,” Henson is quoted by the Department of Public Information as saying.According to the Director-General (ag), Civil Defense Commission (CDC), Lieutenant Colonel Kester Craig, the skill sets and best practices attained during these sessions will increase the knowledge pool of the members of the National Oil Spill Contingency Plan Committee as they further the strategy.Craig also reiterated that the exercise will strengthen the response capacity and preparedness of all the agencies and ministries which have a role in maintaining the Plan.Meanwhile, Deputy Director of the Petroleum Department, Nicholas Chuck-A-Sang emphasised that the oil response is a national agenda that all government agencies must be exposed to.The workshop is the first of two Incident Command Systems and Oil Spill Response courses scheduled for this week. The other event is slated for April 26-28 at Splashmin’s Resort.