Oil response in the Baltic Sea

In the case of a major oil or harmful chemical spill in the Baltic Sea, international assistance from some or all Baltic coastal countries may be needed.  The work for co-ordinated pollution preparedness and response takes place within the regular regional cooperation of HELCOM – Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission.*

The HELCOM BALEX DELTA exercise has been conducted annually for nearly 30 years. The exercise is organized as a practical exercise of the response capability and alarm procedures of the Baltic Sea countries. The exercises are hosted by the Baltic Sea coastal countries with a rotation schedule.

In addition to the host, other countries regularly participate with their own response ships. Typically, 6–8 countries take part in the exercise, bringing the total number of vessels to 10–20. This makes the Baltic exercise one of the major multilateral spill exercises worldwide.

*The work is based on the 1974/1992 Helsinki Convention. A dedicated intergovernmental group was established in 1977 for this purpose, today called the HELCOM Response Working Group. The agreed-upon preparedness and response procedures are documented in the HELCOM Response Manual.

Major oil spills in the Baltic Sea 1969–2016