Rigzone | 27 January 2016
New Oil-Spill Research in Arctic Reveals Surprising Results
While preventing an oil spill is no doubt preferable to launching an oil-spill response, having the right response tools available at the tips of one’s fingers can be invaluable—especially in the carefully protected Arctic environment.
Unprecedented studies reveal the effects of untreated and treated oil in the Arctic environment.
How is marine life in the Arctic affected by crude oil? How is it affected by oil treated with dispersants and in situ burning techniques? Is Arctic marine life more sensitive to oil than marine life in warmer environments?
Although more than 2,000 papers and journals have been published on these topics, remaining uncertainties are being filled by the Arctic Oil Spill Response Technology Joint Industry Program (JIP) in unprecedented ways.
The Arctic JIP was formed in 2012 by nine international oil and gas companies for the purpose of advancing oil-spill response technologies and methodologies in the Arctic and other ice-covered environments.
The JIP received a permit from the governor of Svalbard, Norway, to use crude oil, dispersants, and in situ burn (ISB) residue in experiments conducted in Norway between February and July of 2015.
“They are the first of their kind,” said Mathijs Smit, an environmental scientist with Shell and chairman of the Environmental Effects Technical Working Group for the Arctic JIP.
Unlike indoor laboratory experiments that can only simulate real-world conditions, eight mesocosms—semi-enclosed containers that were exposed to sea ice and the seawater below—were installed at Van MijenFjorden, Svea, Norway, for scientists to observe how treated and untreated oil affects Arctic marine life spanning from winter to summer, and how treated oil behaves in ice.
Preliminary results are now rolling in, delivering both expected and surprising discoveries.
Read the full story here.