Supertankers To The Gulf: Update–skimmers coming!

New From TOD:


I got some good news for you. 6 sweep arms are under way. They will be deployed to local ships and operations will start somewhere between Wednesday and Friday. We got even more in stock (18 more).

For weeks now there are several companies (example: in the Netherlands that have offered to provide the sweeping arms oil from the surface of the ocean.

This system has indeed been proved all over the world to be effective in the past with other oil spills.

At first neither the US Gov. or BP had responded to our help we’ve been offering for so many days now.

Finally the US Gov. has really stepped in, they accept our help to collect the oil from the surface:…

It took me some time to figure out why BP or the US coast guard where not screamingly demanding the arms.

The reason is as simple as it is disturbing: US safety and regulations laws at first prohibited the use of these skimmers, due to the fact that they collect an oil/water mixture and separate the oil from the water. The water is then pumped overboard, of course with some petroleum particles still in it. US laws demand that all the oil/water collected must stay aboard on the ship, because it is unlawful to pump water with oil residue in the Gulf.

While at the same time it is lawfully to use a toxic dispersant to disperse the oil and thus prohibiting the ultimate collection of a lot of oil?!

So it was neither an engineering problem, a technical issue, a resource issue of men and equipment that prevented a effective response to the surface consequences of this massive spill. But it turned out to be solely a political issue.

Now it seems that when the separated water is being pumped back in the the Gulf but in front of the skimmers, it is again within US regulations.

I think I’ll make a lousy politician; I’m far to practical to understand this all 😉

For anyone interested in the sweeping arms, some info:

The skimmers are pretty effective in collecting oil from the surface of the ocean.

One ship with two skimmers can collect up to 250.000 liters of oil out of the water PER HOUR.

That is netto oil, so without the water. Their water cut is aprox. 30% in this system.

So, lets say 4 ships with skimmers, each collecting 250.000 liter of oil per hour, is 1 mil. liters times 24 equals 24.000.000 liters per day. That is 150.000 barrels of oil per day. Of course the floating oil layer has to be thick in order to get this kind of numbers. So easy on the dispersers pleaze!

Other facts about the oil collectors/sweeping arms:

Sweeping Arm

The rigid sweeping arm consists of 2 pontoons, which give the arm its floating capacity, and a bridge piece, for guiding the oil.

The inside pontoon (the one directly next to the ship) contains a pump for discharging recovered oil.

The design and dimensions of the pontoons give the rigid sweeping arm stability, even in rough seas.

The rigid sweeping arms are deployed directly next to the ship. When the vessel is moving forward, the oil will be guided between the ships hull and the rigid sweeping arm, to the oil collection chamber in the sweeping arm. The height of this oil collection chamber is hydraulically adjustable depending on the thickness of the oil layer. This feature means the amount of water entering the oil collection tank can be minimised to 30%.

The oil/water mixture is then pumped on board through an oil tranfer pump. This special pump has an impeller combining the properties of a screw pump with those of a centrifugal pump. This makes the pump suited for high viscous oils and at the same time, less sensitive for debris.

On board the vessel, the oil/water mixture will be separated through the difference in specific weight, whereafter the water can be pumped overboard. The recovery off spilled oil can continue until the tanks on board the vessel are completely filled with oil.

Recently, we have developed an interchangeable oil collection chamber equipped with a brush conveyor skimmer cassette and a pump. The complete oil collection chamber with brush conveyor skimmer cassette and pump replaces, in minutes, the existing oil collection chamber with the MSP 150 pump mounted in our rigid sweeping arm. The brush conveyor skimmer cassette can also be height adjusted using the same features as our existing oil collecting chambers.

Roger from The Netherlands

Lost next to Simmons’ talk of nukes and additional leaks, was Nick Pozzi’s proposal to use supertankers to pump, and centrifuge the oil water mix, or bring the lot to land to store the mix there. Seems reasonable.

Here’s the actual proposal:

Dear Captain Stanton,

Per your request this morning, this is to confirm our conversation with yourself, Mr. Nick Pozzi, and I.

My colleague, Nick Pozzi, has worked for over 40 years in the energy industry the majority with Saudi Aramco in the Middle East. During that time, Nick’s team was part of the first responders that successfully cleaned similar sized spills of sweet and sour crude with the best technology available from the late 1980’s thru the 1990’s when he retired.

The primary equipment that was used to remove the crude from the Arabian Gulf was Super Tankers. The Super Tankers were used to store everything, run thru on-shore three-phase separators and sent to on-shore tank farms for additional clean up using centrifuges. The more the oil spreads the more tankers will be needed. Nick would be willing to provide a conceptual non-technical drawing to visualize this process.

This process not only cleaned up the ocean but it saved the local environment, minimized shoreline damage, and recovered approximately 85% of the crude oil. (Nick may be required to get permission from Saudi Aramco thru the Houston, Texas office in Sugar Land to provide you with any further details as to what information he is allowed to disclose to you regarding the various projects that he worked on.)

Nick does not know what the appropriate channels are to effectuate this process but feels, if asked, the Saudi Government may be willing to assist as he believes, that with the right calls, tankers could be on the scene in 2 days.

Please feel free to call Nick or I, if you need any additional information or have any questions.


Jon King

Nick Pozzi

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  1. might make a difference.

  2. when I see them with my own eyes!

    Thanks for the update.

    • banger on June 1, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    Will be mishandled. Government, I realize now, simply does not have the power to police the industry it is supposed to regulate. It has statutory power often but lacks political power. To be precise, anyone making decisions that effect billions of dollars knows that they will be crushed if they go up against the industry. It’s a no contest situations. Someone making 150k vs someone making billions a year is a no-contest situation no matter the statuory authority.

    I believe we may as well do away with the government at this time since it barely exists and fosters the illusion that someone is in charge.

    Whatever decisions are made depends, largely, on what the lawyering is telling BP. Public indignation could force legal action so they have to be prepared so their clean-up efforts are always mindful of that fact.

    We have made the collective decision that corporations rule, so we reap the result of electing Ronald Reagan and not stopping the Democratic Party to be a slightly milder pro-business conservative party than the Republican Party.

    Corporations are evil institutions, as a whole. They are only interested in their advantage and if they could they would eat us up–if it meant profit.  

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