Stochastic Modeling of the Fate and Behaviors of an Oil Spill in the Salish Sea
- Haibo Niu (Dalhousie University) | Shihan Li (Dalhousie University) | Pu Li (Dalhousie University) | Thomas King (Bedford Institute of Oceanography) | Kenneth Lee (CSIRO)
- Document ID
- International Society of Offshore and Polar Engineers
- International Journal of Offshore and Polar Engineering
- Publication Date
- December 2017
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 337 - 345
- 2017. The International Society of Offshore and Polar Engineers
- modeling, Oil spill, fate and transport, Salish Sea, stochastic analysis
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- 142 since 2007
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Expansion of oil pipelines in western Canada will significantly increase tanker traffic and the probability of oil spills in the Salish Sea. To study the potential environmental effects from an oil spill, a state-of-the-art three-dimensional oil spill model was forced by a newly developed, high-resolution, hydrodynamic and atmospheric model, to simulate the fate and transport of three selected oils in the Salish Sea. A stochastic approach under a wide range of environmental conditions indicated that there is a very high probability for contamination of the Haro Strait area and the majority of the oil would stay on the surface and accumulate on the shoreline, rather than disperse into the water column.
Oil and gas resources, which account for more than 70% of Canada’s primary energy production, are of significant national economic importance. The production of crude oil in Canada reached 167.4 million m3 (1,053 million barrels (bbl)) in 2010, and the industry is still growing. Currently, there are a number of oil and gas platforms already in production off the east coast of Canada, and several new explorations have either started or been proposed. Three major pipeline projects (Trans Mountain, Northern Gateway, and Energy East) have been planned that could significantly increase oil tanker traffic from coast to coast. Increasing oil and gas activities lead to increased risk of marine oil spills. The recent example of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill has shown that it is essential to have a readily available atmosphere–ocean– oil spill system to predict the trajectory of oil and help to allocate the limited response resources (Thibodeaux et al., 2011; Mariano et al., 2011). Unfortunately, such a system is currently unavailable in Canada, and there is an urgent need to develop a coupled system to support emergency response anywhere in Canadian waters.
To fill this research gap, research and development projects to develop both fixed and relocatable coupled atmosphere–ocean prediction systems are in progress within the Marine Environmental Observation Prediction and Response (MEOPAR) academic Centres of Excellence. The main goals are to build and test a coupled atmosphere–ocean forecast system that can be set up within hours of a marine emergency, anywhere in Canadian waters; to provide short-term forecasts (hours to days) of physical properties of the atmosphere and ocean to guide response to a marine emergency; and to build the basis for an integrated observation and prediction system for Halifax Harbour in Nova Scotia, and for the Salish Sea in British Columbia, which is an area that is expecting increased tanker traffic and increased risk of oil spills from the proposed Trans Mountain pipeline.
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