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An Oil Spill Decision Matrix in Response to Surface Spills of Various Bitumen Blends

Abstract

Canada’s production, transport, and sale of diluted bitumen (dilbit) products are expected to increase by a million barrels per day over the next decade. The anticipated growth in oil production and transport increases the risk of oil spills in aquatic areas and places greater demands on oil spill capabilities to respond to spills, which have raised stakeholder concerns. Current oil spill models only predict the transport of bitumen blends that are used in contingency plans and oil spill responsive strategies, rather than changes in the oil’s physical properties that are relevant to spill response. We conducted weathering studies of six oil products in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ flume tank. We also considered two initial oil slick thicknesses, 4.0 mm and 7.0 mm. We found that there is major difference in the time evolution of oil properties (density and viscosity), to raise doubt on weathering models that do not consider the thickness of oil. We also developed empirical expressions for the evolution of the density and viscosity of these oil products. The findings from the 4.0 mm results were incorporated with data from the literature to provide a matrix for decision making regarding the spills of diluted bitumen products. The matrix indicated that most response options, including chemical dispersants, work much more effectively within 48 hours of the initiation of weathering. And that in situ burn is the only option afterward.

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Publication details

The article was received on 09 Mar 2017, accepted on 11 May 2017 and first published on 18 May 2017


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C7EM00118E
Citation: Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts, 2017, Accepted Manuscript
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    An Oil Spill Decision Matrix in Response to Surface Spills of Various Bitumen Blends

    T. King, B. Robinson, M. Boufadel, K. Lee, F. Cui and J. A. C. Clyburne, Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts, 2017, Accepted Manuscript , DOI: 10.1039/C7EM00118E

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