C-CORE is working to significantly increase oil spill preparedness and provide an effective, practical solution for spill clean-up in harsh, cold-ocean environments.

Canada is steward of a vast ocean estate and has the longest coastline of any nation. Most of our offshore can be ice-prone and subject to challenging sea states and harsh weather. Further, the Northwest Passage is gradually opening, offering reduced transit time between Europe and Asia, ~ 40% shorter than the Panama Canal route and 20% shorter than the Suez, saving time, fuel and CO2 emissions (by up to 1300 metric tonnes per trip). Increased traffic is inevitable; fuel spills are possible.

The two-year project draws on C‑CORE’s expertise in modelling, simulation and large-scale physical tests. The aim is to improve existing oil recovery equipment, particularly in terms of how easy they are to deploy and operate in cold, icy ocean conditions and how effective they are for heavy oil such as Bunker C, the main fuel for marine transportation.

The resulting system is expected to be ready for large-scale tests within three to five years. Providing flexible real time adjustments and quick response, it will ensure that the global marine transportation system has access to world-class safety equipment to protect the environment.

This project builds on C-CORE’s previous work on oil spill response, including its scoping of the proposed Sedna Center for controlled technology testing and personnel training in realistic harsh cold-ocean conditions. Other C-CORE research in this area includes reports on Oil Spill Detection and Modelling Solutions for Hudson and Davis Strait and Enhanced Capacity for Oil Spill Situational Awareness and Response in Nunavut, as well as development of algorithms to improve tools in support of the emergency geomatics services and for semi-automated classification of oil slicks at sea using radar and optical imagery.

The project is funded by Natural Resources Canada’s Oil Spill Response Science program and the Government of Newfoundland & Labrador’s InnovateNL initiative. Partners include Marine Institute of Memorial University of Newfoundland (which operates an oil spill tank at its Offshore Safety and Survival Centre), Elastec (a global leader in oil spill and environmental equipment) and Eastern Canada Response Corporation Ltd. (which provides marine oil spill response services in Canada’s navigable waters east of the Rocky Mountains).