Oil company honored for spill prevention

Posted: Wednesday, July 25, 2001

An international oil spill task force has honored Tesoro Alaska Company with its 2001 Legacy Award for Oil Spill Prevention.

The Pacific States/British Columbia Oil Spill Task Force, which represents U.S. and Canadian interests in the Pacific Northwest, cited five winners as models for industry, government and the public to emulate for their commitment to spill prevention, response and teamwork.

The group singled out Tesoro for its double-hulled tankers, work on Geographic Response Strategies and cooperation with the Cook Inlet Regional Citizens Advisory Council in Kenai.

The task force presented the award to John Kwietniak, Tesoro's supervisor for emergency response, at its July 17 annual meeting in Victoria, B.C.

"We consider this a very prestigious honor. It confirms that people recognize you are doing things right," Kwietniak said.

"We've worked very hard, above and beyond what was required."

CIRCAC spokesperson Joe Gallagher said his group, which monitors industry activities, had sent a letter supporting the nomination.

"I am pleased to see that Tesoro won the Legacy Award. It will call attention to some of the things they've done," he said

Oil companies get plenty of adverse publicity when things go wrong, so it is fair to give them recognition when they go beyond the call of duty and make positive contributions, he said.

Tesoro has one double-hulled tanker serving in Alaska waters and another due to begin service this fall. The company is phasing them in ahead of the schedule mandated by law, he said.

The company has invested major effort into Geographic Response Strategies, which are detailed, site-specific plans for responding to potential oil spills, he said.

Kwietniak said, "We are the industry co-chair of the development. ... So we are very much involved in the GRS process."

Gallagher also praised Tesoro for its openness and cooperation.

CIRCAC works closely with Kwietniak, who attends all their meetings, he said.

Gallagher cited the recent example of a visit by a Russian delegation researching safe development of oil and gas reserves. Tesoro officials gave the Russians a tour of their Nikiski refinery and answered questions for more than an hour through a translator, he said.

Tesoro also works with Cook Inlet Spill Prevention and Response Inc. (CISPRI), the Nikiski-based spill response organization.

Tesoro operates three refineries located in Alaska, Hawaii and Washington. Its Alaska plant in Nikiski, opened in 1969, was the first refinery in the state.

The other four winners of the 2001 Legacy Awards were Island Tug and Barge from Vancouver; the California State Lands Commission's Marine Facilities Division from Long Beach, Calif.; Clean Seas LLC from Carpinteria, Calif.; and the team of the Canadian Coast Guard Marine Programs, Transport Canada Marine Safety and the U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Office of Puget Sound.

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