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Freeze-up and Break-up of Arctic Sea Ice in the U.S. Beaufort and Chukchi Seas

The proposed study would provide the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) with a continuation of the research efforts conducted since 2009 regarding the conditions that occur during the annual freeze-up season in the US Beaufort and Chukchi seas. Additionally, the study would provide BSEE with the observations and analysis during the break-up of Arctic sea ice in the US Beaufort and Chukchi Seas (first evaluated by BSEE in 2016-2017).

Decommissioning Methodology and Cost Evaluation for Alaska OCS Region Offshore Oil and Gas Gravel Island Facilities

The objective of the study is to provide the Alaska OCS Region with research and cost estimating regarding decommissioning of a typical arctic gravel island-based, oil and gas exploration/production facility. The work considered standard industry practice, available technology, current regulations (e.g. 30 CFR 250 Subpart Q) and market conditions.

Research to Support Analysis of Oil Spill Response Plans for Spills on Snow and Solid Ice

This project developed the ROSI calculator tool to facilitate assessment of an operator's oil spill response plan for a well blowout, tank failure, pipeline leak, or other spill that occurs during winter months and results in recovery operations on snow and solid ice using "yellow gear" equipment as described in the Alaska Clean Seas (ACS) Tactics Manual. Further, it asssed whether further research was recommended to verify and potentially update the formulas incorporated into the calculator tool.

Oil spill detection under ice and on seafloor

Although remote sensing technologies have been advanced for airborne and spaceborne sensors, it is still challenging to detect oil under/encapsulated in ice as well as on seafloor.

The objectives of this project are to:

Investigate and advance the current underwater technology to detect and measure thickness of oil under ice, encapsulated in ice and/or on the seafloor
Conduct testing at Ohmsett or CRREL to characterize the sensitivity of remote sensors for detecting and characterizing oil under ice, encapsulated in ice, and/or oil on the tank floor.


This project tested the Electrical Capacitance Tomography (ECT) sensor to detect oil in/under ice. For oil detection and thickness estimation under/in ice, where the access to the imaged region is limited to above its surface, the project team used a planar sensor design where the electrodes are mounted on a single plane and placed at a relatively close distance above the ice surface. 

Shoreline Oil Spill Response Gaps and Opportunities Workshop

A workshop is being developed to discuss impacts of oil spills on shorelines. The workshop will bring together Subject Matter Experts (SME) from the spill response community, academia, and industry for the exchange of ideas and the exploration of the current state of the science of oil spill research. Traditional oil and gas exploration and production (E&P) as well as renewable energy (RE) will be explored. The results of this workshop will help guide BSEE Oil Spill Response Research (OSRR) to develop relevant Research and Technologies (R&T) in fulfillment of BSEE's mission.

Enhancements to Ohmsett's Testing Capabilities in a Drift Ice Environment

This project focused on enhancing Ohmsett’s capability to conduct testing in a drift ice environment. Goals included reduction of test costs and optimization of test time through faster setup of the ice environment. Other goals included enhancing safety and reducing manual labor.

The system was proven in February 2024, and Ohmsett is now fully equipped to effectively and efficiently conduct ice testing to meet ASTM F3350-18 “Standard Guide for Collecting Skimmer Performance Data in Ice Conditions.” 

Advancing the BOWHEAD Vessel Ice Management System

This project will advance the BOWHEAD Vessel Ice Management System, developed under BSEE project 1102 to provide an ice-free zone for oil recovery in drift ice conditions. The contractor will retrofit the BOWHEAD prototype based on recommended enhancements identified during January 2021 testing at Ohmsett. The retrofitted BOWHEAD will be tested at Ohmsett in February 2024 to quantify its ability to improve recovery of oil in drift ice conditions over tactics that are currently specified in Alaska oil spill removal organizations' tactics manuals.  

Recovery of Oil under Solid Ice

This project designed an ROV mounted tooling skid to detect, inspect, and recover pockets of oil under solid ice, and to scrape and remove oil-laden ice crystals formed on the underside of the ice. The tooling skid consists of a pumping system, a manipulator arm with collection nozzle and scraping tool, navigation, and lighting to allow differentiation of oil, water, and ice. It has a standardized “plug and play” power and data protocol such that it can be used with any qualified ROV.

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