Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement is the principal US federal agency that funds research in oil spill technologies through the Oil Spill Response Research (OSRR) program. For BSEE, Ohmsett is the cornerstone of its OSRR program. The OSRR programhas partnered with state and federal government agencies, academia, private industry and other countries who share similar interests in Arctic oil spill response research.
In March, BSEE and the United States Coast Guard (USCG) invited several OSR equipment manufacturers under the theme “BSEE Ice Month Testing at Ohmsett” to evaluate different types of skimmers used by the USCG. The testing conditions simulated the Alaska North Slope crude (ANS) in two different ice conditions with 30% and 70% ice concentration.
“We tested our Lamor Multimax 50 (LAM 50) and our proven oil recovery bucket skimmer (LRB), which has been used in numerous oil spills since the early 1990s,” says Lamor’s COO Rune Högström, who was at Ohmsett to supervise the testing of Lamor’s equipment.
All tests were performed with Hydrocal, a standard Ohmsett test oil. “Hydrocal, a lubricant oil, was selected rather than a crude oil because, as a refined product, it provides a more stable test fluid and produce less of a breathing hazard over the four-week test period. At a nominal test temperature of 32F (0C), Hydrocal has a density of 0.90 g/mL and a viscosity of 1000 cP,” says Lamor’s Vince Mitchell, VP Special Projects.
“We had utilized our latest brush technology for the LRB and the test results exceeded our expectations markedly. Large amounts of oil were recovered with minimal water intake, “Högström highlights.
“The most significant outcome of the test was that it made no difference if there was 30% or 70% or any ice at all for that matter with respect to the recovery capacities, due to its easy maneuverability and ice-handling features,” he notes.
Engaging a world-class facility
Government agencies including the USCG and the Navy as well as private industry and oil spill response organizations train their emergency response personnel with real oil and their own full-scale equipment. Some of the testing activities have included remote sensing tests, wave energy conversion device tests, skimmer and boom tests, dispersant tests, alternative fuel recovery tests, and industry oil spill response training classes.
The research and training facility centers on an approx. 10 million liter (2.6 million gallon) salt water tank. Government and the private sector train with oil under realistic oil spill conditions and increase their proficiency using actual oil spill recovery equipment by collecting and recovering oil. Ohmsett creates oil spills in a safe environment. Without this facility, experiments would have to be conducted in the open ocean, which have significant environmental implications.
“The Ohmsett facilities have a full-scale oil spill response equipment testing, research and training can be conducted in a marine environment with oil under controlled environmental conditions i.e. waves and oil types,” says Högström.
“The opportunity to test our skimmers at Ohmsett was once again remarkable and a fantastic experience since its facilities offers a realistic simulated controlled marine environment for oil spill equipment e.g. the use of real oil in a wave/tow tank. Based on the outstanding offering of services coupled with the great cooperation and flexibility of its staff, Ohmsett is already an integral part of our testing and vetting process,” concludes Högström.