R & D Award

ITOPF is recognised and respected globally as a source of objective technical expertise in the area of accidental spills of oil and chemicals from ships. Investing in R&D is one way we fulfill our mission of promoting effective response to marine spills of oil, chemicals and other substances.

Each year, over 7800 million tons of oil, chemicals, raw materials and finished goods are safely delivered by sea. Nevertheless, from time to time, accidents do occur that result in pollution of the marine environment by oil or chemicals. The severity of the pollution depends upon many factors. Continuous improvement in the understanding of the fate and effects of these substances will lead to improvements in accepted ‘best practice’ for spill response and environmental monitoring.

Over the past decades, ITOPF has encouraged and promoted many R&D projects, and funded some, such as DISCOBIOL. Therefore, the creation of this Award in 2011 was a natural step for ITOPF’s shipowner Members and Associate Members, and their Protection and Indemnity (P&I) insurers who recognise the importance of nurturing high quality R&D.

Since the Award was established, some £400,000 has been distributed to eight separate R&D projects worldwide on behalf of ITOPF's shipowners and their P&I insurers.

From 2021, the amount of the Award will increase from £50,000 to £75,000.  This will be used to support a combination of PhD and short-term projects which have the potential to lead to improvements in spill preparation and response, as well as new techniques for monitoring and restoring environmental resources.

Winners of past ITOPF R&D Awards

Information on the winning projects and the results achieved, including reports and papers

Research into the measurement and effects of toxic substances on deep-sea ecosystems

A one-year study to investigate the fate and behaviour of an oil slick subject to different dispersion mechanisms.



A feasibility study to investigate the detection capability of hyperspectral imaging technology (HSI) for oil spillages in ice-affected waters


Determination of realistic spill profiles for chemicals to improve decision-making for spills in different geographic areas and seasons.

Development of a methodology for an assessment of fish health and research into the impact of chemically dispersed oil on marine fish.


A one year study to document the weathering properties and behaviour of LSFOs at sea

"Real Spill Response Game", an exercise platform designed to improve preparedness and training for oil spills

Study to identify and assess emerging risks from marine transportation.

Development of a novel ‘back-pack’ system to track rehabilitated oiled birds without compromising their well-being.