Oil Spill Response Exercise Keeps North Sea Operators on Toes

The oil industry is conducting tough oil spill response tests this week. Identification and recovery of 100 cubic meters of oil is one of the main tasks that awaits the Norwegian Clean Seas Association for Operating Companies (NOFO) on the Frigg field in the North Sea.

"Conducting an exercise with oil on the sea is unique in a global context," said Sjur W. Knudsen, managing director of NOFO. "The realism of such exercises is important in order to progress further within oil spill response."

The new recovery system Ocean Buster will be tested during the exercise. This system is operated with much higher speed through the water than conventional booms.

"It is important to us to document that this recovery system and other new oil spill response products actually work just as well in practice as in theory," said Knudsen.

Booms are not the only means by which to control oil spills at sea. In the past few years there has been greater focus on the use of chemicals to dissolve oil on the surface of the sea. NOFO is first and foremost committed to the application of dispersants by vessels, and the best equipment in use today will be tested during the exercise. The experiences from the exercise will be used as a basis for further development of this equipment.

"In terms of the environment, there is nothing that dictates not using dispersants if appropriate. Dispersants can be an important additional tool in combating oil spills," Knudsen elaborated.

New oil radars to be put to the test

NOFO will also use the exercise to test two different oil radars. These shall be able to identify and determine the position of oil on the sea, also in darkness and under adverse weather conditions.

"Two suppliers will have the opportunity to demonstrate the equipment," explained Knudsen. "The radars are based on post-processing of radar pictures from standard navigation radars. In addition, they have software and technology that is to enable reading of position, drift direction and the size of oil slicks on the sea."

A total of 120 persons will be involved in the exercise during the period 10-12 June. Foreign suppliers will also be participating.

"Even though Norwegian oil spill response technology is at the forefront, it is important that we keep abreast of international developments," said Knudsen. "The meeting of oil spill response communities from Norway and abroad is solely positive and will strengthen us in the long run."