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Aera in the Community Sep 10, 2020

San Ardo’s emergency response drill goes virtual – state regulator impressed

The half-day event proved online collaboration can succeed during an emergency

In years past, an Aera spill drill would take place on site, with Aera staff, contractors and government agencies performing their response duties in person, shown above. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, this year’s practice run was conducted virtually.

With COVID-19 restrictions in play, how do you conduct an annual emergency-response exercise at a California oilfield?

You go virtual, of course.

That’s exactly what Aera’s San Ardo field did Aug. 18 as part of a mock response scenario.

Participants from Aera’s team as well as the California Department of Fish and Wildlife worked from remote locations using the Incident Command System to hone response efforts in case of an emergency at the site.

“The San Ardo exercise clearly demonstrated Aera’s ability to successfully respond to an incident and adapt within a more virtual world,” said Jenna Driscoll, Office of Spill Prevention and Response evaluator for the drill. “The virtual Situation Status board was one of the most advanced I’ve seen and is now serving as a model for OSPR to adapt our own Operations Support Center display.”

The drill is part of Aera’s normal course of operations to ensure preparedness. This year, however, the mock exercise relied on Microsoft Teams, the collaborative online platform, to successfully execute a full emergency response.

In all, some two dozen people joined in remotely to carry out their roles and duties in the emergency preparation and training.  

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