Measures To Combat Arctic and Subarctic Oil Spills
- W.R. McLeod (Marathon Oil Co.) | D.L. McLeod (Montana College of Mineral Science and Technology)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- March 1974
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 269 - 278
- 1974. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 6.1 HSSE & Social Responsibility Management, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 4.2 Pipelines, Flowlines and Risers, 4.3.4 Scale, 6.5.5 Oil and Chemical Spills, 4.1.9 Tanks and storage systems, 1.6 Drilling Operations, 6.5.2 Water use, produced water discharge and disposal
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Information on sixteen arctic and subarctic oil spills, their locations and causes, the amount of oil spilled, the cleanup schemes used, and the costs of cleaning them up has been gathered from a large body of literature. This has been used to analyze the effectiveness of available chemical, mechanical, and destructive means of overcoming spills under arctic and subarctic conditions.
For the purpose of this paper, temperature is the only criterion used to define the limits of the arctic and subarctic regions (Fig. 1). The arctic region is the region in which the mean temperature for the warmest month is below 50 deg. F and the average annual temperature is no higher than 32 deg. F. The subarctic region is the region in which the mean temperature for the coldest month is below 32 deg.F, where the mean temperature of the warmest month is above 50 deg. F, but where there are less than 4 months with a mean temperature above 50 deg. F. The total arctic and subarctic water area is almost 10 million sq miles, compared with approximately 2 million sq miles for the arctic and subarctic land area. The total land and water area is more than 20 percent of the area of the earth.
In 1960 petroleum exploration and drilling moved from the Canadian subarctic to the Arctic Islands. Offshore drilling in the Canadian subarctic started in 1966. Since then the petroleum industry has extended its interest to the offshore oil reserves of the Arctic Basin. As of 1971, federal permits issued on offshore arctic and subarctic areas (North American continent) embraced nearly 1 million sq miles. Oil companies operating in the arctic and subarctic regions are taking greater precautions than ever before to protect the environment. In part this action has been forced upon them by public outcry; but it has also been taken because of technical problems associated with the environment as well as an increased awareness of responsibility to future generations. Their greatest concern is probably associated with the subsequent distribution of the oil (Fig. 2). Shipping operations in both the North American and USSR arctic and subarctic regions have improved steadily in recent years. In 1969 and 1970, we witnessed the voyages of the USS Manhattan through the Northwest Passage. The Russians maintain year-round northern sea routes among several ports. Whether or not we will soon see oil tankers using the entire Northwest Passage the year round is sheer speculation. However, tanker travel can be expected from some arctic ports to eastern and western North American ports as well as to foreign countries. There is reason for concern about oil spillages resulting from tanker casualties. A 1970 report of the British Advisory Committee on Oil Pollution of the Sea pointed out that no month passed without a wreck, collision, grounding, or other accident that caused pollution. In an analysis of tanker casualties in the Baltic Sea, Gulf of Finland, and Gulf of Bothnia from 1960 through 1969, there were 268 casualties reported. It has been estimated that there will be two to four tanker collisions in the Puget Sound area within the next 10 years.
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