23.03.2015, 14:46:59 (GMT+1)

Coastline oil spill protection insufficient

Many oil spill response organisations are rightly shifting their focus in oil spill response (OSR) from off-shore to coastal areas. This requires taking a fresh look at their capabilities and equipment used in the operations.

Focus on coastline protection

Focus on OSR has traditionally been in major offshore accidents and being able to collect the oil offshore, before it arrives at the coast. Accordingly, most OSR organisations have good capabilities and sufficient equipment for offshore OSR. At the same time they have noticed gaps in equipment and capabilities to respond to the accidents that happen in shallow waters or on the coast line.

The statistics prove that most oil spills happen very near to the shoreline. And even in major spills taking place offshore, the real public interest and anger rises when the oil hits the shore line. Experience shows, that this happens almost in all cases. Only a small fraction of the spilled oil is collected offshore.

This poses a huge challenge to OSR organisations. Most of the vessels used in off-shore operations cannot operate in shallow waters – and are often prohibited from operating outside of marked waterways.

How to tackle the shallow water challenge?

The self-evident answer is: deploy vessels and equipment that can operate as near the coast as possible. In practice this means deploying a large number of small vessels instead of small number of large vessels. On top of shallow water capabilities this brings other advantages. In this way the OSR capabilities are not reliant on just few vessels and few sets of equipment - it is not uncommon for the equipment to break when they are most needed. And as the vessels can be spread along the coast line, there is always capacity close to the accident scene whereas today it is possible that the closest of the few vessels is half-a-day or full-day transfer from the accident scene.

This new approach puts requirements on the OSR equipment as well. To be used by crews with limited OSR training and experience, it has to be easy to deploy and operate. It also has to be flexible in terms of the vessel it is used with; it has to work on many different types of vessels. Near coast the share of light oils like diesel in oil spills grows. Consequently, the equipment has to be truly efficient also in collection of light oils.

SeaHow launches new generation OSR equipment for coastal response

SeaHow from Finland has operated one of northern Europe’s largest fleets of oil spill response vessels already for nearly 30 years. Under its local brand name Meritaito the company operates in highly challenging Baltic Sea conditions with fragmented shoreline, narrow and shallow waterways and arctic winter. One of worlds heaviest trafficked oil transport routes goes along the Finnish coastline, in narrowest point only 18 nm from the shoreline.

SeaHow has recognised the need to update its OSR equipment and has developed a new generation skimmer systems for all sizes of vessels. The all new SeaHow skimmer system product line is designed to address the key challenges OSR organisations face today. They are easy to deploy and operate, making it possible to turn virtually any work boat or larger vessel into an OSR vessel in case of an accident.

SeaHow skimmer system product line consists of different sizes of skimmer systems suitable to vessels from 6m long to the largest vessels used in off-shore OSR. They are among the first skimmer systems that can truly collect both light and heavy oils efficiently. With these features they bring totally new operational efficiencies especially for near shore and coastal oil spill response.

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