How Total’s marine dispersants help during spillage disasters
When operating in the marine environment, environmental safety is paramount, particularly in the oil extraction sector. According to the Health and Safety Executive’s most recent report, between 2007 and 2016 the number of UK offshore hydrocarbon releases dropped consistently.
Excellent news, but even as operations become safer, operators still need tools at their disposal to deal with oil spills when they occur, and marine dispersants are one of these.
How do marine dispersants work?
When oil is released into the marine environment, there are several natural processes that work to remove it. Churned by warm waves and heated by the sun, the complex hydrocarbon molecules are broken down in the water or evaporated. In the water column, the oil droplets eventually become home to oil-consuming bacteria and algae, spreading far beyond the initial spill site, degrading further and eventually becoming part of the sediment.
Marine dispersants help prevent long-term damage to the marine and shore environment by speeding up this biodegradation process. They break down hydrocarbon pollutants tiny droplets, reducing the chance of vast, subsurface columns or surface slicks from negatively affecting oceanic ecology. Instead, finely dispersed, the oil can be broken down and discharged far further, in much lower concentrations.
How are marine dispersants used?
Marine dispersants should be applied quickly to ensure their effectiveness. They need to be sprayed on a surface slick from plane or boat, or pumped into a subsurface hydrocarbon column very soon after the spill takes place. This is to stop the oil covering a greater area in its natural form — a far less manageable situation.
The dispersants can either be used in their pure form or mixed with seawater, depending on the product and slick conditions. Most are developed to minimise or eliminate their toxic effects on wildlife, ensuring they’re a solution to oil slicks, not an additional hazard.
Total’s range of marine dispersants
For decades, Total have been at the forefront of marine dispersant development, the result being our current range of third-generation concentrate products. Widely regarded as some of the best in the market, they offer reliable performance during high-pressure situations and have been formulated not to adversely affect sea life.
Finasol OSR 51
Developed alongside the UK and French governments to ensure compliance with their stringent regulatory regimes, Finasol OSR 51 is effective and easy to use.
Finasol OSR 52
Independent tests have shown that Finasol OSR 52 is one of the most effective dispersants on the market, dispersing oils well and spraying easily from apparatus. The first product to comply with the three most important international marine dispersants regulators, the USA’s Environmental Protection Agency, the Marine Management Organisation (UK) and CEDRE (France) — Finasol OSR 52 it’s nothing less than a benchmark product.
Choosing the right response
In case of oil spill at sea, the appropriate response is always decided by local authorities. Upon them rest the selection of the best method to limit the impact while taking into account the NEBA (Net Environmental Benefits Analysis), including geographical area, weatherand environmental conditions. Among the possible responses are mechanical recovery, in-situ burning, or the use of marine dispersants. The later help drive off the oil slick, protecting vulnerable bird habitats and wildlife species on the cost line. They break down hydrocarbon pollutants into microscopic droplets, thus allowing a faster biodegradation process.
Marine dispersants are a key tool in the preservation of marine environments alongside industry. For more information on Total’s range of marine dispersants, part of our special fluids and solvents range, you can visit other pages of our website or contact our experts.