Containment and Recovery Devices for Oil Spill Cleanup Operations
- W.E. Lehr (U.S. Coast Guard)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- April 1974
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 375 - 380
- 1974. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 1.10.1 Drill string components and drilling tools (tubulars, jars, subs, stabilisers, reamers, etc), 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 4.3.4 Scale, 4.5.4 Mooring Systems, 5.7.2 Recovery Factors, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 4.5 Offshore Facilities and Subsea Systems, 6.5.2 Water use, produced water discharge and disposal, 6.5.5 Oil and Chemical Spills
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There are any number of ways to clean up spilled oil. They vary widely in effectiveness, efficiency, and expense, and depend greatly on conditions at the time and site of the spill. If you're in the cleanup business, pray for fair weather and heavy crude.
Each oil spill presents a unique problem to cleanup personnel. The proper response is dictated by a large personnel. The proper response is dictated by a large number of variables. Obviously the location of the spill relative to logistic support bases and the availability of suitable cleanup equipment, support vessels, and skilled personnel determine the kind of response that can be furnished. Not so obvious, but equally important, is the availability of disposal sites for recovered oil and water and the proximity of wildlife refuges, recreational beaches, or other areas that require special protective measures. The most critical factors, however, are related to the quantity and type of oil released and the on-scene environmental conditions. To a large extent they determine the performance limits of all cleanup equipment or techniques. This is particularly true for combating offshore spills. Although there had been a substantial interest in the problems of oil spills for many years, the sinking of the tanker Torrey Canyon in 1967 focused attention on oil-spill cleanup. None of the mechanical equipment systems or chemical treatment techniques available at that time proved successful for combating the spilled oil. Either the equipment broke up under rough water conditions or the equipment and chemicals suffered unacceptable degradation of performance when confronted with the combination of rough performance when confronted with the combination of rough water and widely dispersed emulsified oil.
It may be useful to summarize here the requirements for an effective spill response system. The procedure for responding to all spills is similar. First, the source of the oil must be secured and at the same time the oil on the water surface must be controlled. Then the spilled oil must be recovered. And finally, the recovered liquids and oil-fouled debris must be disposed of. For our purposes we shall examine only the controlling and recovery of the spilled oil. Typically an offshore spill is caused by a tankship accident or a drilling platform casualty. Both can result in the release of massive quantities of oil at some distance from shore support facilities. Cleanup equipment must be capable of harvesting, processing, and storing large volumes of fluid. It must perform effectively under a variety of sea conditions and be able to survive passing storms intact, resuming recovery operations as soon as conditions permit.
All equipment (containment booms, recovery devices, and support equipment such as oil/water separators and temporary storage) should be highly mobile. The unpredictability of time or place of an offshore spill suggests that response equipment be pooled at central storage sites. However, the pooled at central storage sites. However, the quick-spreading nature of spilled oil dictates that cleanup equipment, particularly containment booms, be deployed as quickly as possible. Additionally, on-scene weather can be expected to furnish difficult working conditions for cleanup personnel. The necessity for field changes or extensive modifications to fit response equipment to available surface craft should be held to a minimum.
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