Gulf of Mexico operators develop surface monitoring equipment program
HWCG, a consortium of deepwater operators in the Gulf of Mexico, and marine environmental consulting and survey company CSA Ocean Sciences have created a surface monitoring equipment program designed to assist offshore oil and gas operators with enhancing their environmental monitoring and preparedness capabilities.
The Surface Monitoring Equipment program is designed to profile and sample the ocean surface to a depth of 100 meters. It provides offshore energy companies operating in the GOM with access to purpose-fit and rapidly deployable scientific monitoring equipment and specialized spill response services for use in responding to accidental discharges in the marine environment.
The program is said to meet new regulations pertaining to the use of surface dispersants, should their use be an appropriate response tactic during an oil spill.
When responding to oil discharges, as governed by the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Title 40, Part 300: National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan, Subpart J (40 CFR 300.913), the use of surface dispersants for over 96 hours or in response to a discharge of more than 100,000 gallons in 24 hours, calls for the collection of water samples and in situ measurements near the ocean surface, including temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen concentration, fluorescence, turbidity, methane, pH, and particle size distribution.
CSA said it had evaluated and selected equipment appropriate for monitoring the upper water column and the suite of sensors can be deployed using a towed frame or a vertical cast system.
CSA’s sister company Okeanus Science & Technology designed and built a launch and recovery system (LARS) complete with a winch, skid-mounted A-Frame, and custom cable to enable deployment to depths of 100 meters in either towed or cast mode.
According to the company, the equipment program also includes a custom Control Van, which serves as a mobile workspace during both onshore standby and offshore deployment.
“Prevention and containment are the industry’s primary objectives to avoid accidental oil spills. These capabilities are complemented by having access to CSA’s monitoring equipment, scientists, and operations personnel to monitor the environment and protect response workers,” said Craig Castille, HWCG’s Managing Director.
“Whether or not dispersants are used as a response tactic, access to customized equipment that can be rapidly mobilized strengthens the industry’s ability to conduct monitoring during accidental discharges that could potentially affect surface waters of the GOM, its shorelines, and communities,” said Jodi Harney, Vice President, Energy at CSA.