Oil Spill Technology Research Continues for Arctic Exploration

The report on the fate of dispersed oil under ice is the first step that can predict the fate of a dispersed oil plume that develops under the ice. It is a review of what turbulence data is already available, what monitoring methods are appropriate, and what models already exist, the JIP reported Feb. 11.

The fate of a cloud of oil droplets under ice depends on droplet size distribution, the vertical turbulence profile, and the horizontal transport field. The longer the droplets are retained in the water column, the more the droplet cloud will become diluted due to horizontal mixing, and the more the oil will biodegrade.

While sufficient knowledge exists to develop an under-ice turbulence closure model, existing observations are probably not good enough to provide calibration and verification data. A number of possible strategies exist for gathering new data to support development and calibration of an under-ice turbulence model, such as turbulent instrument clusters, autonomous underwater vehicles, fluorescent dyes, acoustic doppler current profilers, and passive traces such as fluorescence and rhodamine.

In separate reports, the JIP confirmed that the oil and gas industry has a range of airborne and surface imaging systems used from helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft, vessels and drilling platforms, which developed and tested for the “oil on open water scenario” that can be used for ice conditions.

What’s Next for JIP Research

The eight reports released so far comprise one third of the reports that will be published over the JIP’s life, the JIP said in a statement. Over the course of the four year program, the JIP will carry out a series of advanced research projects in its six key areas of focus.

The results to date demonstrate the potential viability of multiple oil spill response technologies in Arctic conditions beyond mechanical recovery, said Joseph V. Mullin, program manager for the JIP, at the Arctic Technology Conference in Houston Feb. 10-12.

Basin calibration of three test tanks has been completed and, over the next year, the JIP will begin lab and basin testing of dispersant effectiveness at the SL Ross Environmental Research Ltd., in Canada, SINTEF in Norway and France-based Cedre test facilities. Research experiments will be conducted to test and evaluate the performance of various surface and subsea remote sensing technologies, the JIP reported.


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