Aerial application of dispersants is an important tool used to respond to oil spills both in coastal waters and in the deeper waters of the Outer Continental Shelf. A number of tools currently exist for aerial dispersant planning and these have been used in oil spill response operations, although they were not originally developed for use in such scenarios.

AMOG was contracted by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) in the USA to develop a Decision Support Tool (DST) to assist planners in identifying operational windows and safety setback distances based on forecast meteorological conditions, aircraft types, and release rates.

The project involved a data gathering campaign, a high level capability review of existing aerial dispersion modelling, and the assessment of the performance of current models for predicting the extent of dispersant drift in offshore operations. These studies fed into the development of the DST. 

In 2016, AMOG completed work on this project, having developed Computational Fluid Dynamic (CFD) models of representative oil spill response aircraft. The CFD models facilitated examination of the effects of the combination of environmental conditions likely to be experienced by the aircraft, coupled with the specific configuration of the aircraft/dispersal system geometry (such as nozzle configurations). Comparative results were then used to determine the suitability, or otherwise, of the existing models for incorporation into AMOG’s DST.

The culmination of this work was the development of the DST which can be used by Oil Spill Response Operators for planning spill clean up sorties. This work is also the topic of a paper and presentation prepared for the International Oil Spill Conference being held in Longbeach, CA in May 2017.

In line with US Government Policy, a copy of the report may be located here.