EMSA (European Maritime Safety Agency) issued an inventory to provide an overview of the oil spill dispersant application capability at an EU level.

The present edition of the dispersant inventory replaces previous versions published in 2005, 2007, 2010 and 2014. This update is based on information provided and verified by the competent national authorities in each Member State.

The inventory contains information for each Member State regarding:

  • the national rules and regulations for usage of oil spill dispersants as an at-sea oil spill response method
  • the testing and approval procedures for dispersants
  • the equipment and stockpiles for dispersant application, including geographic information system (GIS) based maps.

Once oil has been spilled at sea, the primary goal of any response action is to mitigate the socio-economic and environmental impact by removing the spilled oil from the water surface as quickly as possible.

The purpose of using oil dispersants is to break the spilled oil into small droplets which are faster biodegraded in the water. When used in an appropriate and timely manner, dispersants can remove a significant amount of oil from the water surface, which reduces the exposure to marine life, sea birds and mammals, as well as shorelines.


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The degree of harm that might be suffered by marine organisms exposed to dispersed oil depends on various components like the dispersed oil concentration, the duration of exposure and the rate of dispersion and dilution, as well as the inherent sensitivity of the particular organism to dispersed oil.

Through these services, EMSA aims to complement and top-up existing response resources at national and regional level. In case of oil pollution caused by ships or oil and gas installations, EMSA may provide operational assistance through:

  • The Network of Stand-by Oil Spill Response Vessels: equipped with two systems for mechanical recovery of oil (sweeping arms and boom & skimmer). Selected arrangements (six at the end of 2022) are also fitted with dispersant spraying capability and dispersant stock as part of the response toolbox. All EMSA vessels are equipped with radar-based oil slick detection system. Moreover, selected vessels (12 at the end of 2022) are equipped with lightweight remotely piloted aircraft systems (LRPAS) that enhance the aerial overview of the operation.
  • The Equipment Assistance Service (EAS): The EAS consists of stand-alone oil spill response (OSR) equipment systems and dispersants that can be provided for use by Vessels Of Opportunity (VOO). The stand-alone spraying equipment is placed in Rotterdam and Ravenna (EAS NS and EAS SE). Vessels, Equipment and Dispersants can be provided to Requesting Parties subject to a request and signature of an Incident Response Contract. Overview of the Vessels and EAS stockpiles is available at the following hyperlink: Operational Pollution Response Services – EMSA – European Maritime Safety Agency (europa.eu)

A list of dispersants which have been approved for use by various EU/EFTA/EEA countries, based on the replies from the Member States. It should be underlined that the following list is for information purposes only:



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Issue 84 of Robban Assafina

(March/ April 2023)


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