Sensitivity of modeled oil fate and exposure from a subsea blowout to oil droplet sizes, depth, dispersant use, and degradation rates.


RPS Ocean Science, South Kingstown, RI, USA. Electronic address: [Email]


As part of a Comparative Risk Assessment (CRA) developed and reported previously, oil spill modeling of a hypothetical blowout at 1400 m in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico was performed to evaluate changes in oil exposures with alternative response options, i.e., combinations of mechanical recovery, in-situ burning, surface dispersant application and subsea dispersant injection (SSDI). To assess if conclusions from this study could be extended to other spill scenarios, sensitivities of the predicted oil fate and exposure metrics to location, release depth, oil and gas flow rate, gas content, orifice size, oil droplet size distribution, and biodegradation rates were examined. Results show that the fraction of oil surfacing is highly sensitive to oil droplet size distribution and depth of release. Across the simulations performed, SSDI use reduced oil droplet sizes released, thereby mitigating surface and shoreline oiling, volatile hydrocarbon exposures, and potential surface water column exposures.


Net environmental benefit analysis,Oil and gas blowout,Oil spill modeling,Oil spill response,Spill impact mitigation assessment,Subsea dispersant injection,

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