Oil spill management in Arctic conditions

SINTEF has recently completed a research project looking into the management of oil spills under Arctic conditions. Full-scale experiments demonstrate that burning and the use of chemical dispersants are the methods which work best under field conditions. Dispersants are certified chemicals which are relatively harmless to life in the ocean and along the coastlines. They are sprayed onto the oil which then disintegrates into smaller droplets. One of the challenges revealed by the project is to identify suitable spraying and application equipment which can be used in ice-infested waters. An additional challenge is that oil treated with dispersants must be mixed down into the water mass. In the open ocean this is achieved by a combination of waves and currents. In calm or ice-infested waters the process is more problematic.