Volume: 2 | Issue: 2

Considerations for the Application of Controlled In-Situ Burning



The burning of oil in place (in situ) on water is a viable means of mitigating the impact of marine oil spills. This paper defines three phases of decision-making, prioritizes the key issues of each phase, and proposes a process for analyzing the issues when considering controlled in-situ burning as an early response option in both icy and warm conditions. Also provided is a fact-based consideration of safe practices, such as those involving potential personnel exposure, sealife exposure, ignition control, fire control, and vessel safety. Controlled in-situ burning (ISB) can be initiated on a pre-approved or case-by-case basis, and there is generally a short operational time window during which it can be effectively used; therefore, quick, informed decision-making is imperative. This paper provides a discussion of these factors, along with a knowledge base of best practices that includes general categories of considerations, decision-making support tools, and specific operational approaches. The Deepwater Horizon response is used to illustrate both the operational approaches and the three decision-making phases; however, every situation is different and calls for decisions based on the individual circumstances. Because of its long history of research, testing, and use during spills, as well as positive environmental tradeoffs, controlled ISB is now considered by many to be a conventional response option.

Read or download the full SPE paper 157602-PA.