In the interests of better international understanding we are adding the words “non-buoyant” to the title of the International Forum that will take place in Detroit, USA on 9-10 September, 2014.
The US Coast Guard defines Group V oil as “oil with a specific gravity equal to or greater than 1.0” and the term “Group V oils” is well understood and in common use in the USA. However, in other parts of the world the term “Group V Oils” is not well known and the respected independent consultant Alun Lewis has confirmed that there is in fact no international standard (such as ISO) for classifying oils by their density.
Non-buoyant oils or negative buoyancy oils are oils that sink in water and include types of residual fuel oils, bitumen, and orimulsion. Because these oils sink, response to spills presents very significant challenges and clean-up costs are many times greater than those for normal oils. There is also a pressing need to develop new and more cost-effective technologies for addressing the problem.
The rapidly increasing volumes of “Dilbit” (Diluted Bitumen) and oil sands crude oil being transported gives the matter of improving response preparedness a very high priority. This is the reason for convening the International Forum.
“Dilbit”, as such, is not a non-buoyant hydrocarbon – but will most certainly be addressed by the Forum. The problem is that when “Dilbit” is spilt at sea, in lakes or rivers, there is only a short time window during which conventional containment-recovery operations can be effective.
“Dilbit” is bitumen diluted with gas condensate or other light fractions to make it pumpable. As soon as it is spilt the diluent begins to evaporate and the material becomes progressively heavier. Ambient temperatures and other weather conditions will influence this process but experience has shown that the sinking will take place within a short period of time.
In event of a spill, oil sands crude (bitumen) carried in heated cargo tanks will sink immediately.
The purpose of the Forum is to focus attention and accelerate efforts to develop more effective capabilities for dealing with these spills. ISCO is currently compiling a mailing list for people who wish to register their interest in the Forum and would like to be kept informed on the event.