DNV students develop Arctic spill response concept

AUGUST 9, 2012 — Students enrolled in a summer project organized by DNV in Oslo have presented the results of seven weeks of intense and targeted work to develop a realistic and suitable concept for a year-round Arctic oil spill response system, including requirements for people, vessels and equipment.

The cornerstone of the concept is a multifunctional concept vessel – the Boreast – capable of performing oil spill response tasks in the Arctic.

"We presented a realistic, innovative Arctic oil spill response system we have called the AURORA – Arctic United Response Operation and Recovery Agreement – combining new ideas and fresh insight," explains project manager Martin Andestad.

DNV's summer project is an annual program organized during the summer months for students in their final year of a master's degree program. This year, ten students with varied cultural and academic backgrounds worked intensely on their project for seven weeks.

"We know that the world needs more energy. And we know that much of this energy is located in unfriendly and vulnerable areas of the world. Adequate oil spill response systems are therefore of vital importance. These are complex issues that the world's leading scientists, researchers and engineers spend considerable time and resources on. So I am impressed by what these ten students have been able to process and produce during seven short summer weeks," says DNV's CEO Henrik O. Madsen.

Research shows that about 22–25 percent of the world's undiscovered petroleum resources are located in the Arctic. However, there are many complex challenges related to drilling in this region. One of these is to have a system in place should an accident occur.

The AURORA system is divided into three oil spill response levels. The first response is conducted by on-site vessels. The second is conducted by vessels arriving from the closest cold or warm hub. The third, which includes beach clean-up, is a large mobilization by all hubs. The hub locations are chosen based on the existing infrastructure along the Northern Sea Route. Warm hubs contain all the equipment included in the AURORA, while cold hubs function as extensions of the warm hubs.

The AURORA concept vessel – the Boreast –  has a number of innovative solutions on board; an unmanned aerial vehicle, remote in-situ burning, an autonomous underwater vehicle, towable storage bladders and an ice cleaning conveyor belt to mention a few.

AURORA also combines efficient logistics, appropriate vessels, a wide range of equipment and human expertise to create an oil spill response system with high performance and low cost. The students presented the concept in two scenarios; a drilling rig blow-out and a cargo ship grounding. But as they said: "The AURORA states a high level of preparation, but this might not be enough to ensure safe operations in the future. In the Arctic, there is no room for a weak link."