Dr Michael O'Brien
Paper presented at IMO 3rd R&D Forum, 11-13 March 2002, Brest, France
Within the wider debate on the effectiveness of at-sea recovery, this paper investigates whether the particular characteristics of heavy oils warrant special consideration when planning and responding to spills of these oils. The paper reviews arguments for and against greater at-sea recovery efforts than would be justified with other, lighter oils. Attention is given both to theoretical considerations as well as to actual experience gained in such spills of heavy oils as the BALTIC CARRIER, ERIKA, EVOIKOS, NAKHODKA, VOLGONEFT 263 and other spills. The paper reviews and compares the observed effectiveness of state-of-the-art equipment with non-specialised equipment such as mechanical grabs. It is concluded that while heavy oils often warrant special attention, large investment in specialised equipment and R&D are likely to be less beneficial than improved planning and preparation with locally available resources.