Thursday, April 30, 2015

Automatic Boom Deploys to Contain Oil Spills at Energy Port

New Technology Cuts Response time in Case of Accidents
Shipping News Feature

SWEDEN – An autonomous vessel tasked with solely the purpose of deploying containment booms in the event of an oil spill has been introduced at the Port of Gothenburg. In order to ensure a more rapid and safer response to oil spill clearance at the largest energy port in the Nordic region, the Port of Gothenburg has invested SEK 3.5 million in the GPS-controlled temporary floating barrier, which has been developed by disaster management and environmental protection firm SP Marine.

Crude oil is brought in to the Port and refined into petrol, diesel, asphalt and other products. Despite very strict safety stipulations, an accident could nevertheless occur resulting in an oil spill. Compared with the customary approach of towing booms manually using boats, the new automatic boom saves time, taking approximately 10 minutes to contain a spill compared to half an hour when the booms are towed by boat.

In the event of a spill, a member of staff at the Energy Port office presses a button on the wall which activates a torpedo-like unmanned craft that travels around the dock towing a 400-metre-long boom. The automatic boom is made of sand, cast in a special polymer which creates a flexible slab that rests half a metre below the water surface and 20 centimetres above. Dan-Erik Andersson, Head of Operations at the Energy Port in Gothenburg, said:

"What is most important is that the oil is contained as quickly as possible to allow clearance to begin. The robot tows the boom from one pier to another. It could be said that it forms a large bag in which the oil is collected. It has already been in operation once for testing and the results were good. It has taken a long time to adapt the robot to the conditions in the Göta Älv River and at the Energy Port and that is why it feels particularly gratifying now that development has been completed."