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

Oil-price collapse may aggravate producing nations’ other problems

02/05/2015 The recent global crude-oil price plunge could be aggravating underlying problems in Mexico, Colombia, and other Western Hemisphere producing natio...

Goodlatte reintroduces bills to repeal, reform RFS

02/05/2015 Calling it “a true ‘kitchen table’ issue,” US Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) reintroduced a pair of bills to address problems in the federal Renewable ...

MARKET WATCH: NYMEX oil drops, ending 4-day rally

02/05/2015 Crude oil prices dropped on the New York market Feb. 4 to settle below $50/bbl and to end a 4-day rally after a weekly government report showed oil...

Alberta’s premier seeks more North American energy integration

02/05/2015 Better policy integration and cooperation will be needed for Canada, Mexico, and the US to fully realize the North American energy renaissance’s po...

Deloitte studies oil supply growth for 2015-16

02/04/2015 A Deloitte MarketPoint analysis suggested large-field projects, each producing more than 25,000 b/d, could bring on 1.835 million b/d in oil supply...

Oil, gas infrastructure investments essential, House panel told

02/04/2015 Investments in oil and gas transportation and storage should move ahead because they are essential in continuing the US economic recovery and North...

Petrobras CEO, five other senior executives resign

02/04/2015 Maria das Gracas Foster, chief executive officer of Petroleo Brasileiro SA (Petrobras) since 2012, has resigned along with five other senior execut...

MARKET WATCH: NYMEX crude oil prices reach 2015 high

02/04/2015 Crude oil prices surged more than $3/bbl on the New York market Feb. 3, closing at the highest level so far this year, but some analysts believe th...

Chevron unit farms into Mauritania offshore blocks

02/04/2015 Chevron Mauritania Exploration Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of Chevron Corp., has agreed to acquire 30% nonoperated working interest in Blocks C...
White Papers

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

The impact of aging infrastructure in process manufacturing industries

Process manufacturing companies in the oil and gas, utilities, chemicals and natural resource industri...
Sponsored by

What is System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis?

This paper will explain some of the fundamentals of System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis and demonstrate...
Available Webcasts


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

When 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



On Demand

Prevention, Detection and Mitigation of pipeline leaks in the modern world

Thu, Apr 30, 2015

Preventing, detecting and mitigating leaks or commodity releases from pipelines are a top priority for all pipeline companies. This presentation will look at various aspects related to preventing, detecting and mitigating pipeline commodity releases from a generic and conceptual point of view, while at the same time look at the variety of offerings available from Schneider Electric to meet some of the requirements associated with pipeline integrity management. 

register:WEBCAST


Global LNG: Adjusting to New Realities

Fri, Mar 20, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s March 20, 2015, webcast will look at how global LNG trade will be affected over the next 12-24 months by falling crude oil prices and changing patterns and pressures of demand. Will US LNG production play a role in balancing markets? Or will it add to a growing global oversupply of LNG for markets remote from easier natural gas supply? Will new buyers with marginal credit, smaller requirements, or great need for flexibility begin to look attractive to suppliers? How will high-cost, mega-projects in Australia respond to new construction cost trends?

register:WEBCAST


US Midstream at a Crossroads

Fri, Mar 6, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s Mar. 6, 2015, webcast will focus on US midstream companies at an inflection point in their development in response to more than 6 years shale oil and gas production growth. Major infrastructure—gas plants, gathering systems, and takeaway pipelines—have been built. Major fractionation hubs have expanded. Given the radically changed pricing environment since mid-2014, where do processors go from here? What is the fate of large projects caught in mid-development? How to producers and processors cooperate to ensure a sustainable and profitable future? This event will serve to set the discussion table for the annual GPA Convention in San Antonio, Apr. 13-16, 2015.

This event is sponsored by Leidos Engineering.

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