There is a long-standing, internationally recognized system employed for categorizing and structuring levels of oil spill preparedness and response. It was developed originally by the oil industry in the 1980s as a means to ensure that an appropriate response capability was available to deal with oil spills commensurate to the risks. The approach established the principle of Tiered Preparedness and Response, whereby appropriate resources can be mobilized rapidly and escalated to provide an effective response to any oil spill. Tiered Preparedness and Response can be applied to all potential oil spills, from small operational spillages to a worst case, at sea or on land. It is essential that governments and the oil industry work in partnership to establish integrated response arrangements and capability, thereby ensuring that together they are able to respond effectively to an oil spill of any magnitude. The tiered approach represents the best opportunity to structure and build these preparedness and response arrangements in a consistent and effective manner that facilitates the integration of global response resources. Despite all preventive steps being taken, an oil spill risk will always remain. This risk needs to be catered for by designing and building oil spill preparedness.