Sensing-Based Technology Advances for Enhanced Deployment of Oil Spill Response Resources

Coolbaugh, T. S. (ExxonMobil Corporation) | Chopra, A. (Oil Spill Response Limited) | Varghese, G. (Oil Spill Response Limited)

OnePetro 

AbstractObjectives/Scope: The paper examines how oil spill Surveillance, Modelling and Visualization capabilities have evolved over the years and how synergies between these technologies aspire to answer some of the pressing questions on "Situational Awareness" for operational decision making during oil spill events.Methods, Procedures, Process: Techniques exist that provide information about a slick's location, and potentially, information can be gathered about characteristics of a slick such as thickness. This is important in order to maximize the encounter rate of spill response tools, since the best equipment will do little if it is not located in or able to be deployed at the location of greatest concentration, whether it is to be collected, burned, or dispersed. Used together, these technologies ensure that resource intensive airborne and ground based spill response tools and personnel can be deployed effectively and timely manner to achieve optimum response performance.Results, Observations, Conclusions: Major oil spills may involve multiple intervention and response strategies. Although much of the focus has been on mechanical containment and recovery, in-situ burn and dispersants, there have been significant developments with respect to sensing technologies that may allow for better discrimination of the details of a surface slick. This is important since effective response relies on the ability to locate the majority of a spill. It is usually the case that most of the slick volume resides in a small area and by identifying the areas of thicker oil, it is possible to deploy response tools in a more effective manner. Therefore, it is important to have good information about the size of a slick, type of spilled material, location and trajectory. Without this it would be difficult to know how much response equipment to plan for and where to position it. In addition, it is expected that the oil will be subject to natural weathering processes such as evaporation, dissolution, dispersion, and emulsification, all of which may diminish response tool effectiveness. Slicks will naturally spread and in locations in the open ocean, currents and winds will serve to spread the oil farther, making it less continuous and thinner.Novel/Additive Information: Technological advancement in oil spill response operations continues to occur constantly, despite a common misconception that there has been little or no change since the first major offshore oil spill happened in the 1960s. Technological advancements will be discussed with a focus on operational readiness level and existing knowledge gaps for future improvements.