A number of options are available to respond to marine oil spills. The primary technique adopted by many government authorities is mechanical recovery of oil from the sea surface. This is usually achieved by use of booms to concentrate spilt oil, allowing a skimmer to selectively recover and pump the oil to storage. Many different types of skimmer exist with designs optimised to deal with different scales of operation, oil types and environmental conditions.
This paper describes the fundamental requirements for the successful use of skimmers in the situations most likely to be encountered during an oil spill and should be read in conjunction with other ITOPF papers in this series, in particular, on the use of booms, shoreline clean-up techniques and the disposal of oil.