Full set of tools needed for US Arctic spill response, NRC finds

A full slate of response tools will be needed to address crude oil spills in the US Arctic, but not all of those tools are readily available, the National Research Council said in a new report.

While much is known already about both the behavior of oil and response technologies in Arctic environments, there are areas where additional research would enable more informed decisions about the most effective responses for different Arctic spill situations, the Apr. 23 report added.

“The Arctic system serves as an integrator for the Earth’s physical, biological, oceanic, and atmospheric processes, with impacts beyond the Arctic itself,” it stated. “The risk of an oil spill in the Arctic presents hazards for Arctic nations and their neighbors.”

The council, one of the federal government’s independent national academies, was asked to prepare the report by the American Petroleum Institute, US Arctic Research Commission, US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, US Coast Guard, Marine Mammal Commission, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Oil Spill Recovery Institute.

“Arctic oil spill response is challenging because of extreme weather and environmental conditions; the lack of existing or sustained communications, logistical, and information infrastructure; significant geographic distances; and vulnerability of Arctic species, ecosystems, and cultures,” it noted.

Real-time forecasting

The report said a real-time Arctic ocean-ice-meteorological forecasting system is needed to account for variations in sea ice coverage and thickness. “The system should include patterns of ice movement, ice type, sea state, ocean stratification and circulation, storm surge, and improved resolution in areas of potential risk,” it said. “Such a system requires robust, sustainable, and effective acquisition of relevant observational data.”

High-resolution satellite and airborne imagery needs to be coupled with up-to-date, high-resolution digital elevation models and updated regularly to capture the dynamic, rapidly changing US Arctic coastline, it added. “To be effective, Arctic mapping priorities should continue to be developed in consultation with stakeholders and industry and should be implemented systematically rather than through surveys of opportunity,” the report recommended.

It also called for establishment of a comprehensive, collaborative, and long-term Arctic research program to understand spill behavior in a marine environment, including the relationship between oil and sea ice formation, transportation, and fate.

“It should include assessment of oil spill response technologies and logistics, improvements to forecasting models and associated data needs, and controlled field releases under realistic conditions for research purposes,” the report said. “Industry, academic, government, non-governmental, grassroots, and international efforts should be integrated into the program, with a focus on peer review and transparency.”

An interagency permit approval process to enable researchers to plan and execute deliberate releases in US waters also is needed, it added.

Response counter-measures and removal tools including biodegradation and dispersants; in-situ burning; mechanical containment and recovery; and detection, monitoring, and modeling also need to be studied.

Flexibility required

“The oil spill response toolbox requires flexibility to evaluate and apply multiple response options, if necessary,” the report said. “Well-defined and well-tested decision processes are critical to expedite review and approval of countermeasure options in emergency situations.”

Operations, logistics, and coordination also will be critical, it said. “Marine activities in US Arctic waters are increasing without a commensurate increase in the logistics and infrastructure needed to conduct these activities safely,” the report warned. “As oil and gas, shipping, and tourism activities increase, the US Coast Guard will need an enhanced presence and performance capacity in the Arctic. US support for Arctic missions, including oil spill response, requires significant investment in infrastructure and capabilities.”

It said the US Arctic’s lack of infrastructure is a significant liability which must be addressed. “Building US capabilities to support oil spill response will require significant investment in physical infrastructure and human capabilities, from communications and personnel to transportation systems and traffic monitoring,” it said.

“Human and organizational infrastructure improvements are also required to improve international and tribal partnerships so as to leverage scientific and traditional knowledge and best practices,” the report continued. “A truly capable end-to-end system for oil spill response would require integration of Arctic data in support of preparedness, response, and restoration and rehabilitation.”

No funding mechanism exists to develop, deploy, and maintain permanent or temporary infrastructure, it noted. One approach might be to enable a public-private-municipal partnership to receive a percentage of lease sale revenues, rents, bonuses, or royalty payments that are currently deposited in the federal treasury, it suggested.

Training and organization

The report also recommended that the USCG and Alaska’s Department of Environmental Conservation develop a spill training program for local entities so villages would have trained response teams.

“Local officials and trained village response teams should be included in the coordinated decision-making and command process during a response event,” it said. “Input from community experts should be actively solicited for inclusion in response planning and considered in conjunction with data derived from other sources.”

Relevant federal, state, and municipal organizations, local experts, industry, and academia should hold regularly scheduled oil spill exercises to test and evaluate the flexible and scalable organizational structures which will be necessary for highly reliable Arctic oil spill response, the report added.

Internationally, it said the USCG should expand its bilateral agreement with Russia to include Arctic spill scenarios and conduct regularly scheduled exercises to establish joint responses under Arctic conditions. The USCG also should build on existing bilateral agreements with Russia and Canada to develop and exercise a joint contingency plan, it recommended.

In the response and strategies realm, the report said that spill response effectiveness could be improved by adopting decision processes such as Net Environmental Benefit Analysis, by developing inclusive organizational response practices in advance of an event, and by enhancing resource availability for training, infrastructure, and monitoring.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

Related Articles

Transco seeks FERC approval for New York Bay Expansion project

07/09/2015 Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Co. LLC (Transco), a wholly owned subsidiary of Williams Partners LP, has filed an application with the US Federal E...

House Oversight panel subpoenas Kerry for Keystone XL documents

07/09/2015 The US House Oversight and Government Reform Committee issued a subpoena to US Sec. of State John F. Kerry for reports, recommendations, letters, a...

MARKET WATCH: NYMEX crude oil prices drop for fifth consecutive trading session

07/09/2015 US light, sweet crude oil prices settled slightly lower on the New York market July 8 for the fifth consecutive trading session, and analysts attri...

Ending crude export ban would help rural US areas, House panel told

07/09/2015 Rural US communities generally have benefited from the nation’s crude oil production renaissance, and potentially could be helped more if restricti...

MOL completes Ithaca Norge acquisition

07/09/2015 MOL Group, Budapest, has completed its acquisition of Ithaca Petroleum Norge from Ithaca Energy Inc. for $60 million plus possible bonuses of up to...

Courts less deferential to regulatory agencies, GMU forum told

07/08/2015 US Supreme Court decisions in the recently completed term suggest that judicial deference to federal regulatory agencies is starting to recede, spe...

AER orders Apache Canada to address integrity of pipeline system

07/08/2015 Alberta Energy Regulator has directed Apache Canada Ltd. to address the integrity of its pipeline management system because of “failure to follow p...

API releases pipeline safety recommended practice

07/08/2015 The American Petroleum Institute released a pipeline safety recommended practice that it developed with engagement from the US Pipeline and Hazardo...

MARKET WATCH: Brent oil prices climb; NYMEX oil price holds below $53/bbl

07/08/2015 US light, sweet crude oil prices settled slightly lower on the New York market July 7 to remain under $53/bbl as Brent crude oil prices gained mode...
White Papers

2015 Global Engineering Information Management Solutions Competitive Strategy Innovation and Leadership Award

The Frost & Sullivan Best Practices Awards recognise companies in a variety of regional and global...
Sponsored by

Three Tips to Improve Safety in the Oil Field

Working oil fields will always be tough work with inherent risks. There’s no getting around that. Ther...
Sponsored by

Pipeline Integrity: Best Practices to Prevent, Detect, and Mitigate Commodity Releases

Commodity releases can have catastrophic consequences, so ensuring pipeline integrity is crucial for p...
Sponsored by

AVEVA’s Digital Asset Approach - Defining a new era of collaboration in capital projects and asset operations

There is constant, intensive change in the capital projects and asset life cycle management. New chall...
Sponsored by

Transforming the Oil and Gas Industry with EPPM

With budgets in the billions, timelines spanning years, and life cycles extending over decades, oil an...
Sponsored by

Asset Decommissioning in Oil & Gas: Transforming Business

Asset intensive organizations like Oil and Gas have their own industry specific challenges when it com...
Sponsored by

Squeezing the Green: How to Cut Petroleum Downstream Costs and Optimize Processing Efficiencies with Enterprise Project Portfolio Management Solutions

As the downstream petroleum industry grapples with change in every sector and at every level, includin...
Sponsored by

7 Steps to Improve Oil & Gas Asset Decommissioning

Global competition and volatile markets are creating a challenging business climate for project based ...
Sponsored by
Available Webcasts

On Demand

OGJ's Midyear Forecast 2015

Fri, Jul 10, 2015

This webcast is to be presented by OGJ Editor Bob Tippee and Senior Economic Editor Conglin Xu.  They will summarize the Midyear Forecast projections in key categories, note important changes from January’s forecasts, and examine reasons for the adjustments.

register:WEBCAST


Predictive Analytics in your digital oilfield - Optimize Production Yield and Reduce Operational Costs

Tue, Jul 7, 2015

Putting predictive analytics to work in your oilfield can help you anticipate failures, plan and schedule work in advance, eliminate emergency work and catastrophic failures, and at the same time you can optimize working capital and improve resource utilization.  When you apply analytic capabilities to critical production assets it is possible to reduce non-productive time and increase your yield.

Learn how IBM's analytics capabilities can be applied to critical production assets with the goal of reducing non-productive time, increasing yield and reducing operations costs.

register:WEBCAST


Cognitive Solutions for Upstream Oil and Gas

Fri, Jun 12, 2015

The oil & gas sector is under pressure on all sides. Reserves are limited and it’s becoming increasingly expensive to find and extract new resources. Margins are already being squeezed in an industry where one wrong decision can cost millions. Analyzing data used in energy exploration can save millions of dollars as we develop ways to predict where and how to extract the world’s massive energy reserves.

This session with IBM Subject Matter Experts will discuss how IBM Cognitive Solutions contribute to the oil and gas industry using predictive analytics and cognitive computing, as well as real time streaming for exploration and drilling.

register:WEBCAST


The Alternative Fuel Movement: Four Need-to-Know Excise Tax Complexities

Thu, Jun 4, 2015

Discussion on how to approach, and ultimately embrace, the alternative fuel market by pulling back the veil on excise tax complexities. Taxes may be an aggravating part of daily operations, but their accuracy is crucial in your path towards business success.

register:WEBCAST


Emerson Micro Motion Videos

Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!

 

Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected