HOW DOES INDUSTRY PREPARE FOR AND RESPOND TO AN OIL SPILL?
To avoid impacts on the environment, profit margin, market share, public relations and governmental penalties, the oil industry is constantly preparing to respond in the case of a spill.
The first priority of industry is to research and implement technologies that prevent spills from happening. Some of these technologies and techniques developed by the oil companies are held as proprietary trade secrets. However, in 2012, nine energy companies (BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Eni, ExxonMobil, North Caspian Oil Company, Royal Dutch Shell, Statoil and Total) established the Arctic Response Technology Oil Spill Preparedness - Joint Industry Program (JIP) to make advances on oil spill response technologies and to understand effects of oil on Arctic marine environments.
Industry is the first responder to an incident in Alaska. For spills on marine waters, the Coast Guard is the first federal agency to respond. In Arctic Alaska, for emergency support, the closest Coast Guard air station is on Kodiak Island, about 900 miles away from the North Slope. The Command and Response Center is in Anchorage, still over 600 miles away. The remoteness of Arctic waters requires industry to have crews and equipment ready on site.
Several industries have researched techniques for a quick response to oil spills in the Arctic and have trained employees on site for oil spill cleanup. Some technology used for clean-up of offshore spills includes booms to corral oil, in-situ burning to burn off most of the oil, and chemical dispersants to diffuse oil.
PHOTO CREDIT: NOAA
Industry is often the first responder to an oil spill, and will be so especially in the Arctic. Thus, they have organized cooperatives and other structures to get the training and supplies necessary in the event of a spill.
Arctic Oil Spill Response Technology Joint Industry Programme (JIP)
JIP is a combination of nine oil and gas companies interested in sharing research and improving oil spill readiness in Arctic conditions. JIP’s main goal is stated as follows: “[to] minimize our impact on the environment, lead and deploy industry best practices and work together using our joint expertise, resources and funding to improve technologies and methodologies for Arctic oil spill response.”To learn more about JIP and industry involvement, go to the JIP website.
Arctic Oil Spill Response Technology Joint Industry Programme (JIP) Infographics
Oil spills in the Arctic require specific clean-up techniques since the presence of ice has to be taken into account. Several techniques are employed, such as using booms to corral oil, in-situ burning to burn off most of the oil and chemical dispersants to diffuse oil. Take a look at JIP’s Arctic Response Technology website for descriptions of how they could employ each device or technique.
LAMOR Oil Recovery Bucket
Take a look at one type of skimmer by Lamor (Larsen Marine Oil Recovery) Corporation. The stiff-brush spins and separates just the oil from the water. It is expected to be a high-performing technique in Arctic waters. The bucket part of the skimming device can be used to collect larger debris that might end up amidst the oil as well. Read Lamor’s website about this product, or look at photos and watch a video showing a test run of the equipment.