In response to the US invitation of offers of assistance from foreign countries to aid in cleaning up the oil resulting from the Macondo well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico (GoM), Ubifrance, a French company, is organizing a delegation to visit the southern US in hope of offering cleanup help. According to a recently published press release, about 10 French companies “with expertise in ocean- and land-cleaning technologies and clean energy” will travel during the week of Aug. 23, 2010, to Houston and New Orleans to meet with local authorities and oil companies, including BP. Ubifrance, the French agency for international business development, organized the French delegation. The group is under the aegis of the country’s Ministry for the Economy, Industry & Employment. With 64 trade commissions in 44 countries, Ubifrance offers a range of products and services aimed at supporting French-based companies in their development on export markets. The group’s work covers knowledge-based products and services, from business information to consulting and market supervision products for planning their international development strategies, and promotional operations that foster partnerships with foreign companies. In this case, personnel from the Ubifrance head office in Paris are recruiting French companies that want to participate in the cleanup efforts in the GoM, and offices in the US will help from the other side. Serge Hanoca, director - Industrial Equipment/Energy Embassy of France – French Trade Commission\Ubifrance, explained that personnel within the US will work with the headquarters in France to facilitate the process. “Basically, our colleagues from France will do the coordination locally, and our offices in Chicago and Houston are directly in charge of the mission in the Gulf,” he said. The press release issued on behalf of Ubifrance explains that the group’s efforts were prompted by a request sent from Washington DC on June 29. The document, which came from the Office of the Spokesman, is a call for help. It said, in brief, “The National Incident Command and the Federal On Scene Coordinator have determined that there is a resource need for boom and skimmers that can be met by offers of assistance from foreign governments and international bodies.” According to the release, the US will accept 22 offers of assistance from 12 countries and international bodies, including two high-speed skimmers and fire containment boom from Japan. “We are currently working out the particular modalities of delivering the offered assistance,” the release said. Meanwhile, the Unified Area Command (UAC) under the direction of the United States Coast Guard (USCG) is coordinating the oil spill response in the GoM. For those who are not aware, the UAC includes representatives of the responsible parties, affected states, and other departments and agencies of the US government. The National Incident Command, headed by the USCG, is working with the Department of State to support the UAC as it sources equipment, supplies, and expertise. As for the French delegation, the group will include companies that have proven track records in oil cleanup, containment, and recapturing. The visit will include business meetings, site visits, and a press conference with technology demonstrations. The list of participating French companies has not yet been finalized. An itinerary will be set in the coming weeks. According to the press release, France is making this gesture based on its experience with significant oil spill accidents, “similar to that of Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico and its consequent ecological impact.” Since 1967, seven of the most serious accidents worldwide, including Amoco Cadiz in 1978, Gino in 1979, Erika in 1999, and Ievoli Sun in 2000, have affected the French coastline. The delegation preselected by Ubifrance includes nearly 20 companies with expertise with skimmers, screw pumps, deepwater oil extraction, containment boom, surface trawl nets, oil spill recovery vessels, dispersants, surface washing agents, sorbents, demulsifiers, bioremediation agents, individual kit site remediation efforts, protective gloves, and oil spill consultancy (technical assessment of cleanup options, oil spill modeling). Apparently, there are 27 countries that have offered assistance. Included among these are: Belgium, Canada, China, Croatia, Denmark, El Salvador, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, the UK, and Vietnam. International bodies offering assistance include: the European Maritime Safety Agency, the European Commission’s Monitoring and Information Centre, the International Maritime Organization, and the Environment Unit of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the United Nations Environment Program. A chart of offers of assistance from governments and international bodies is available online on the State Department site and is updated to include new offers of assistance and decisions on accepting the offers as they are made.