Traditionally the exercise activities conducted in accordance with Copenhagen agreement and HELCOM recommendations for regular international exercise are focusing on marine response issues and activities performed at sea and typically engage national coast guard agencies, maritime administrations and organisations with sea based oil recovery resources and vessels. Most oil spill accidents, however, also result in shoreline contamination. The large number of organisations and the different duties they have in different countries make cross-border cooperation much more complex for the shoreline response than for offshore response. In particular for potential large scale spills, shoreline contamination may occur along hundreds of kilometres of beaches and shorelines. Such events are also likely to include cross-border pollution and situations when the national preparedness resources and organisations cannot cope with the response needs only by their own resources. For these scenarios it is essential that effective mechanisms for cross-border international cooperation are well established and ready to operate efficiently. In order to achieve this it is necessary to conduct common shoreline exercises. The manual is divided into three main phases: planning, conducting and evaluation of the exercise and may be applied for different types of exercise themes and at optional levels of complexity and number of participating organisations.
As a result of the BOILEX shoreline oil spill exercise, port authorities, coast guard and other stakeholder institutions in the Baltic Sea Region countries are trained to operatively react and combat oil spills. Furthermore, it concentrates on creating well-functioning international cross-border cooperation concerning management, assessments and decision making in the early stage of the oil spill. The exercise also aims to identify future needs for development.