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.

The purpose of the initiative is to inspire innovative thinking and encourage the development of ideas that could provide realistic solutions to some of the challenges faced in spill response and environmental monitoring.

Each year up to £50,000 is made available to fund R&D projects that make a valuable contribution to improving the knowledge and understanding of issues related to accidental marine pollution.

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


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


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


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

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


Study to identify and assess emerging risks from marine transportation.


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

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

Application Deadline

The deadline for receipt of applications for the next Award is 30th November 2019, with the intention of granting the 2020 Award by the end of February 2020.