Joint exercise between Greenland Oil Spill Response and Oil Spill Response Limited

Photo: OSRL – Arctic SCAT course in Qoornoq

With the purpose of testing equipment and personnel in cold/Arctic conditions, a so-called “cold weather exercise” was carried out between Greenland Oil Spill Response (GOSR) and Oil Spill Response Ltd. (OSRL), in the days 8-21 March 2016

It took almost 6 months planning the exercise as there were many elements that needed planning and agreeing on, among other things; which equipment to test, which local vessels to use and participant number and election. OSRL attended the exercise with 8 experienced oil spill responders from the company’s Southampton base and GOSR participated with Managing Director Lonnie Wilms, Operations Manager Vilhelm Lynge Hard and oil spill responders; Benny, Kenneth, Morten and Heidi from Nuuk.

Managing Director Lonnie Wilms says:
”GOSR’s oil spill responders are
semi-volunteers and still undertaking
basic training, whereas OSRL’s
oil spill responders are fulltime
professional oil spill responders.
I was therefore looking forward
with both excitement and little bit
of anxiety to see how the cooperation
between our oil spill responders
and those of OSRL would work out”.

Photo: Lars Demant-Poort – Lonnie Wilms

Deployment of Pyroboom

The first part of the exercise and test of the equipment from OSRL in Southampton took place in the Ice Fjord in the Nuuk Fjord. There the Desmi Roboom 1500 and the Desmi Pyroboom were tested. The Roboom 1500 is an offshore containment boom and one of the most recognised and effective one of its kind, whereas the Pyroboom is a fireproof containment boom in which you can contain the oil at sea and burn it in-situ.

Photo: OSRL – Deployment of Pyroboom from the Sanna at Qoornoq (time-lapse video of the deployment available at GOSR’s Facebook page)

Lonnie Wilms explains: “In-situ burning of oil at sea is a recognised oil spill response method; it does however require permitting from the proper authorities and is not something you just initiate on your own. In-situ burning is however something we’re very interested in as we’re part of an international consortium where in-situ burning is one of our focus areas and as we’re also looking at purchasing relevant equipment for this oil spill response method”.

Roboom from the wharf at Nuuk port

After the deployment in the Ice Fjord, the participants returned to Nuuk where another exercise was awaiting. From the wharf at Nuuk port, the Roboom 1500 was once more deployed, this time the deployment took place straight from the wharf where the reel with the Roboom 1500 had been secured to a 20’ flat rack container and a vessel towed the boom out to sea where another vessel helped position the boom. This part of the exercise provided a good insight into how to deploy a containment boom if is not possible to find a suitable vessel to deploy the boom from.

Photo: OSRL – Deployment of Roboom 1500 from the wharf in Nuuk

SCAT

Afterwards the participants departed for Qoornoq to undertake an ” Arctic Shoreline Clean-Up Assessment” (Arctic SCAT) course. SCAT is a standardised method used to describe and assess the shoreline. Such a standardised description helps to ensure the development of an appropriate response plan in the case of an oil spill reaching or having reached the shoreline. The OSRL participants were well acquainted with regular SCAT, but only had some experience with Arctic SCAT, so this was one area where GOSR's participants could contribute with their local knowledge about ice and snow among other things relevant to the Arctic environment.

Photo: OSRL – Deployment of Troilboom AFPU750 and Beachboom at Qoornoq

The day after the SCAT, the joint exercise ended with the deployment of some of GOSR’s equipment such as the Desmi Beachbooms and Desmi Troilboom AFPU 750’s.  Lonnie Wilms says: “It’s of the outmost importance for us to train Greenlandic oil spill responders that are familiar with their local environment, and hence is in a better position to assess which methods that are the most suitable in a given oil spill scenario, once they are familiar with the different response methods, strategies and limitations. That way we can secure the best response in case of an oil spill in Greenland.”.

Equipment as well as personnel were “tested” in cold weather. Those issues that GOSR and OSRL wanted to test and evaluate during the exercise were equipment, personnel and their personal protective equipment (PPE). The temperature during the exercise varied between -1°C and -10°C, with a chill factor up to -17°C.  All of the equipment worked satisfactory despite of the cold; the containment booms proved very sturdy and were not damaged when towed through the ice and the mechanical equipment had no issues with the cold. PPE and working in the cold worked out well for the attendees also. GOSR has chosen to work in flotation suits and life vests, which didn’t hinder the work movements but still stayed warm and provided sufficient protection on the job. OSRL had chosen to work in immersion suits which was a very warm but also a good solution for working at sea in a cold environment.

“The exercise went very well, we got to test everything we wanted and it all worked well in the cold as we had hoped but not necessarily expected. I’m very proud of GOSR’s volunteer oil spill responders that worked really well together and with the oil spill responders from OSRL. The exercise has strengthened both organisations and i would very much like to conduct more joint exercises with OSRL.” Say managing director Lonnie B Wilms