A major training exercise to prepare for a worst-case scenario oil spill is being held in Aberdeen.

The counter-pollution training is being led by UK´s Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and is described as its biggest such rehearsal of 2023.

The major counter-pollution exercise is under way this week just off Aberdeen. 

The list of potential threats to the UK coastline includes inadvertent oil and chemical discharges as well as plastic and natural products and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) regularly trains across the UK against any of those happening.

The MCA exercise is being held just off the Port of Aberdeen and will run from 10-12 October involving hundreds of metres of equipment, a small flotilla of vessels and about 50 people from various organisations.

The event is weather-dependent but planned rehearsals include a theoretical spill of 750 tonnes of oil close to the coast. Among the kit being deployed are booms to limit the spread of pollutant, equipment known as skimmers to collect it, and a huge storage bag to hold it ready for disposal.

The activity also includes a flyover of two planes practicing surveillance and mock dispersant sprays. No real oil or real dispersant spray will be used in this exercise.

Virginia McVea, MCA chief executive will be on the water assessing the operation in person.

“As well as honing our capability and spotting any gaps, the exercise is a clear demonstration of how well prepared we are as a country to protect our offshore habitats, coastline, economy and communities from pollution at sea,” she said.

Stan Woznicki, MCA’s head of counter-pollution and salvage, noted: “Major training exercises such as these are key components of a wider training programme as they familiarise the teams with the considerable size and complexity of the response equipment, as well as the number and diversity of the personnel needed to deliver an effective response. 

“Where delivery of response must be delivered quickly, this experience is crucial.”

Representatives from Port of Aberdeen, the Marine Directorate of the Scottish government, and other oil spill response organisations from across the UK, are also attending.