In the framework of the ESEOO Project (Spanish Operational Oceanography System) a complete set of models has been developed to simulate oil spills transport and fate processes. These models have been integrated in a user friendly operational system called TESEO. The system is linked with the operational winds and currents forecast system, and consequently, is able to provide useful information to decision-makers in a crisis situation. The performance of TESEO system has been successfully tested during three operational oil spills exercises organized by the Spanish Maritime Safety and Rescue Agency (SASEMAR) in the Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea. Detailed information regarding the operational exercise in the Cantabrian Sea is provided.
On November 19, 2002, the single-hulled oil tanker Prestige broke into two pieces about 130 nautical miles off the Spanish coast, west-southwest of Cape Finisterre. The ship sank to a depth of about 3500 m, spilling approximately 11,000 tons of oil (Montero et al., 2003) into the sea. The latest estimation of the amount of oil spilled until August 2003 was of 63,000 tons (Castanedo et al., 2006) affecting more than 2000 Km of shoreline (Ministerio de Medio Ambiente, 2005). From the first stages of the accident, different Spanish institutions and public agencies started to work on the monitoring and forecasting of the oil spill. At that time, did not exist in Spain a national oceanography system able to forecast currents and oil spill trajectories. Therefore, several improvised operational forecast systems were built in different regions along the Northern coast of Spain with a common objective, to help manage the crisis (Castanedo et al., 2006, Gonzalez et al., 2006). During the crisis, numerical simulation and prediction of oil spill transport was an important tool for the planning of the protection and spill response operations.