Innovations in Aerial Dispersant Application Technology for the Offshore Industry

Salt, David (Oil Spill Response Limited)



Recent developments in aerial spraying technology to meet offshore legislative requirements and new technology to improve global response to major spill incidents.

Within the past two years the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has introduced new legislation and response guidelines on offshore operators within the United Kingdom Continental Shelf (UKCS) to provide improved surveillance and aerial dispersant response systems to offshore spills incidents. Over the years various aircraft types have been equipped with either dedicated or non-dedicated aerial dispersant systems to provide an aerial dispersant spray response. The main determining factor of system and aircraft choice typically has been the operating cost of the aircraft, leading in the main to the use of older aircraft. The paper will describe and illustrate innovative technology used by the Industry to satisfy these requirements in an efficient and cost effective manner using more modern aircraft types, optimising the utilisation of the aircraft and minimising the cost to the operators.

The application of dispersants must be carried out as quickly as possible to be effective; to respond to remote spills it is necessary to get the equipment on site as soon after the event as is practicable. The paper describes an innovative technology development to provide a cost-effective rapid response tool for oil spill incidents.

The Legislative Drivers

The introduction of the Oil Pollution Preparedness Convention (OPRC) had a significant impact on the oil pollution response requirements placed on the United Kingdom Continental Shelf Operators. The implementation of this legislation, combined with a restructuring of the UK Government response arrangements, required operators to be able to guarantee a response to an oil spill within the parameters described in Figure 1.

At the same time there was an increased requirement placed on operators to provide aerial surveillance of an oil spill incident.