In-Situ Burning of Oil in Ice – Affected Waters – State of Knowledge

In-Situ burning (ISB) in ice and Arctic environments is regarded as a safe, environmentally acceptable and proven technique backed up by over five decades of research and operational experience comprising hundreds of laboratory and basin experiments, numerous successful Arctic field experiments, large-scale at-sea burns and the recent experience gained through the Deepwater Horizon incident response.

ISB is considered especially suited for use in the Arctic, where ice often provides a natural barrier to maintain the necessary oil thicknesses for ignition without the need for containment booms, and oil remains fresh and unemulsified for a longer period of time (compared to the same oil in open water). ISB has proved very effective for thick oil spills in high ice concentrations and has been used successfully to remove oil spills resulting from pipeline, storage tank and ship accidents in ice-covered waters in Alaska, Canada and Scandinavia.

Herders can provide an additional tool to support the use of ISB as an effective response strategy in pack ice and open water. Herding agents can thicken oil slicks in open water as well as in higher sea ice concentrations where containment by traditional booms becomes increasingly impractical.