Combatting oil spills in the Arctic is a major challenge. Drilling or producing oil or gas in the marginal ice zone (MIZ) may allow booms to be deployed upstream of an offshore structure to clear the water of ice, thereby enabling conventional oil spill countermeasures to be used. Such a boom would be kept in place by two ice-going service vessels or by moored buoys. SINTEF NHL and NRC have performed a number of small-scale tests with a flexible boom in the NRC ice basin in Ottawa. The purpose of the tests was to measure the effectiveness of using a flexible boom for collecting ice, and to determine the loads associated with collecting the ice. In the tests, various boom configurations were towed against a broken ice field consisting of ice pieces typically 50–100 mm across and 30 mm thick. The ice concentration was usually 10/10, but it was reduced to 8/10 and 5/10 for two tests. The boom was towed at speeds of 20 and 50 mm-s−1. Both the width of the boom and the slackness of the boom were varied over reasonable ranges. Two six-component dynamometers were used to support the boom. Thus, the force components on each end of the boom were measured. Further, two video cameras were used to record the effectiveness of each boom configuration. In this paper, the full results of this test program are presented and the application of the test results to the full-scale situation are discussed. The tests show that, under certain conditions, the use of boom is feasible for ice management in oil-contaminated water.

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