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Offshore Oil & Gas rig

Battelle Oil & Gas Newsletter

March 2015 - Issue 4

Industry Insights
Offshore oil rig

Battelle Evaluates Subsea Oil Spill Detection Technologies

Battelle has completed an evaluation of commercially available subsea oil detection technologies aimed at helping the oil and gas industry improve remote oil spill detection and response. The six-month study was completed on behalf of oil and gas industry group IPIECA in order to provide guidance to the industry on selection of appropriate technologies for a variety of potential scenarios.

Battelle researchers evaluated the performance of different combinations of direct and indirect sensors aboard a range of delivery vehicles including autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), manned surface vehicles (gliders) and autonomous surface vehicles (ASVs). Each sensor/vehicle combination was evaluated to determine its strengths, weaknesses and best applications. The evaluations were then applied to determine priority recommendations of sensor and vehicle combinations for five different oil spill scenarios including a release at an oil terminal, a spill by a tanker during transit, an offshore platform release, a pipeline rupture and a well blowout. The evaluations were also related to guidance developed by the U.S. National Response team (NRT) in response to the Deepwater Horizon event, which created atypical conditions not addressed in previous guidance documents.

As the oil and gas industry moves into more remote deepwater locations, new methods are needed for oil spill monitoring and rapid response. Using autonomous underwater and surface vehicles to carry hydrocarbon sensors reduces the risks to field personnel associated with oil spill response, especially detection in remote areas and hazardous operations. By loading sensors onto autonomous surface and subsea vehicles, oil spill response companies can monitor environmental conditions over a wide area and allow for more rapid and cost-effective data collection in the event of a spill. The Battelle study is the first to systematically evaluate many of these new technologies and compare the performance of difference combinations of technologies for different scenarios.

IPIECA is an industry group focused on sustainability and environmental protection for the oil and gas industry. The evaluation is part of ongoing work by Battelle to identify promising new technologies to help reduce environmental risks for oil and gas exploration, production and transportation.