T I O N Oil & Gas
in pushing technology
By Isaac Stone Simonelli
The harsh conditions and remote nature of Alaska present formidable obstacles to those protecting the environment from
oil spills. Companies, agencies, and academics
throughout the state continue to find the necessary funds to develop better, more efficient
technology to prevent and clean up spills.
This technology ranges from infrared and
satellite imaging techniques and advances in
oleophilic skimmers to the use of bomb-sniffing dogs and Alyeska’s new fleet of purpose-built ships.
Skimmers and PPR Otter Systems
The primary line of response to water-based
oil spills is using mechanical methods, which
have seen numerous enhancements over the
years as companies attempt to improve their
efficiency, lowering the need for temporary
storage units and improving their response
in remote areas.
“An OSRO [oil spill removal organization]
like Chadux is at a disadvantage; we can’t get
temporary storage out to some of the places
we need to go just because of the remoteness
of it,” Alaska Chadux Corporation General
Manager Matt Melton explains. “So, we defi-
nitely need higher efficiency in our skimmers,
and that kind of goes with any OSRO nowa-
days because a lot of things are tied up with
One of the more advanced and efficient
skimmers in Melton’s member-funded, non-
profit OSRO is the Lamor 50 Skimmer—an
oil-attracting (oleophilic) brush skimmer.
The Lamor 50, which is capable of picking
up persistent oils when the brushes are run
one way and non-persistent oils when run
the other, was developed after Chadux team
members pitched the idea to engineers at
Lamor, says Melton.
However, Melton isn’t convinced the limitations of efficiency are entirely with the
equipment. He explains that an operator’s
understanding of water conditions and the
skimmer being operated plays a significant
role in efficiency.
“I think there is still that combo,” he says.
“I know back East they are working on au-
tonomous vessels that can go and skim oil,
and that will never work up here because you
don’t always have satellites that will be in
range all the time to run them.”
That said, there is one skimmer project
being developed in Alaska that Melton does
consider groundbreaking: the PPR Otter
Pup. Alaskan Kevin Kennedy, founder of
Pacific Petroleum Recovery Alaska (PPR), is
working tirelessly to bring his PPR Otter Se-
ries skimmer systems to the market.
“They’ve probably got the newest thing in
the world when it comes to cleaning up oil
A self-propelled AquaGuard skimmer is loaded onto icebreaker CGC Healy.
Oil Spill Cleanup