Oilspill Cooperative Boundaries


Big changes are coming in 2022 for WCSS and we are excited to share them with you!

What's the scoop?

2022 will mark the 50th year that the petroleum industry and regulators developed a combined vision for spill preparedness. We are immensely proud to continue to serve as the management team specifically built for this cooperative. As with all great management systems, we like to keep the edges sharp and gears well-oiled.

As of January 1st, 2022, WCSS will be changing our cooperative boundaries.

Why the change?

In 2016, steering committees from Coop Areas P, Q and S were asked to participate in a pilot program that would have them working together as “Zone 1."  Our current jurisdictional boundaries have 18 coop areas that are grouped into 6 zones. Together with the coop steering committees, the WCSS management team had identified that:

  • It was becoming increasingly difficult to maintain consistent volunteer numbers in each coop
  • Much of the administration requirements for each coop were similar
  • Geographic features in each Zone allowed for streamlined discussion around specific equipment needs for a similar environment
  • Member companies would benefit from more flexibility when it came to exercise attendance to meet their regulatory requirement: many companies have operations that overlap the coop boundaries and are required to attend multiple exercises each year; sometimes the same person is sent to the same exercise several times.

The progress of this pilot project was shared with all other coops at each year-end Chair meeting from 2017 to 2019 and resulted in some interest among our other coop areas to coordinate their exercises together where possible. This is not a new concept; combined exercises have occurred in the past with great success. By the end of 2019, each coop area in Zone 1 agreed that an increased cross-section of member company representation resulted in more efficient exercise planning and execution, a dynamic mix of idea sharing, and a willingness to continue to work together with a more supportive succession plan.

What are the changes taking place?

We chose to build on the momentum of progress made through this pilot program and the interest from other coops.  Supported by the Executive Sub Committee and with approval from the Board of Directors, the WCSS management team made a coop boundary revision one of its 2021 strategic initiatives: 

The goal is to create a Zone Management Model that is more efficient and cost effective than the current model and takes into consideration how our industry environment is changing.

How did the process to identify new boundaries unfold?

Recognizing that sometimes change is best handled in small doses, the Executive Sub Committee agreed that a phased approach would be most appropriate:

Phase 1 – Decision on boundaries and steering committee/volunteer base within each revised boundary. Note that: 

  • Zone boundaries are administrative in nature and not reflective of industry activity levels; and, 
  • Boundaries do consider geography and natural features (watersheds, natural and sub regions, forest types, etc.) but do not rely on them exclusively. 

 Phase 2 – Determine zone equipment needs and locations, considering: 

  • Current and expected activity levels 
  • 2019 Operational Assessment report recommendations 
  • Location of equipment in relation to transport corridors 
  • Custodian requirements and availability 
  • Equipment types & locations will reflect geographical features 

What needed consideration?

In some parts of our jurisdictional boundary, merging coops together to become a larger steering committee seemed straightforward.   However, some zones span a large enough geographic region that coordinating and attending a zone-based exercise would be impractical for our members. 

It became clear that a blended approach to revising boundaries was needed, using:

  • Current coop and zone boundaries
  • Main highways
  • Geographic features
  • Activity levels in various areas for industry

Who was involved in this revision?

Our organizational structure is designed to ensure proposed changes such as these receive the feedback needed in order to make a well-rounded decision.

The management team prepared 3 different options for the Executive Sub Committee to review in Q1 2021.  Upon agreeing that new boundaries were needed, all coop steering committees were engaged, and comments collected by the end of Q2.

After input from all committees, the Executive Sub Committee and Board of Directors formally approved the recommended changes at their Q3 meeting, to be implemented January 1, 2022.

  * At a minimum, 1 Chair and 2 Alternates agree to a rotational plan to encourage individual growth and diversity in contribution to WCSS initiatives.   

So, how will this affect me / my company?

  • Your operations will be in a ‘new’ cooperative. The current coop letters will be replaced with a numbering system.
  • Exercise attendance requirements will not change; each member company will be required to be represented in each area of their operations. The onus is still on member companies to be identifying your worst-case scenarios, high consequence areas and in-house familiarity with the equipment that is available for your use.  
  • Changes will be required to your Oil Spill Contingency Manual(s) and associated control point maps. More details on this process will be communicated in the coming months.
  • The WCSS Training department will be standing by to support you with any questions you may have when planning your exercise attendance in 2022.

What comes next?

Equipment Review

We will review equipment inventories and locations for each of the new coop areas and discuss any recommended changes with each steering committee. We do not anticipate many, if any, equipment changes, but a thorough review was deemed to be prudent.

Access to WCSS equipment will not change, even though the boundaries will.  No matter where a spill occurs, WCSS will work with our member companies to ensure that the nearest available equipment is mobilized in the event of a spill.

Volunteer Structure

While some of the current committees will simply merge into one larger committee, there will also be change to some of the leadership roles within the coops. We will be engaging our committees once again to discuss these changes in the fall.

This cooperative is effective because of the commitment offered by our volunteers.  They offer solutions on behalf of their organizations and organize their schedules to assist with carrying out exercises.  They work together to achieve a state of preparedness for the oil and gas industry, and they are invaluable. 

In 2016 when we were finding it difficult to maintain volunteers, we sought to leverage the combined years of experience to offer support in areas that needed it and this strategy was proven to be effective.  While the roles within steering committees will remain essentially the same, we will be focused on ensuring a reliable succession plan, enhanced access to spill response training and unique work experience for all those interested.

When will this all take place?

These changes will not occur until January 1, 2022. Until that time, everything remains status quo for our members for the remainder of this year.

I have some more questions. Who can I speak with?

We encourage all questions and feedback! Please direct all questions to info@wcss.ab.ca and we will ensure that you get the answers you seek.