Both onshore and offshore oil mining and processing facilities need containment. However, controlling the spread of oil in water is often far harder than on the ground. Yet, there’s more potential for recovering and reclaiming valuable products when containing oil floating on the surface of water than when mixed into the soil. Whether you’re dealing with leaks on the ground or over open water, the containment methods share many similarities.
Oil spreads faster on the water than over the ground, but it’s easy to underestimate the spread of oil that’s traveling under the surface of the soil. If you’re storing oil over sand or other loose soils, the liquid can travel dozens of feet underground until it reaches a deposit of groundwater or aquifer. Oil leaked onto soil also continues spreading underground after the spill stops, while oil stays on the surface of water longer to allow for recovery. The speed of spread for both types of spills is a challenge to contain regardless of the location.
Exposure to Plant and Animal Life
Both onshore and offshore spills have significant chances of exposing animal and plant life to the oil. Seabirds, in particular, tend to land in oil spills on water, while plants growing on the water’s surface or on the beaches are affected as oil washes up with the waves. Plants and soil health are impacted for much longer periods when spills occur onshore. Remediation often takes years for onshore spills, while it’s usually completed within a few months to a handful of years even for the biggest offshore spills. Advancing water recovery methods are speeding up large spill recovery efforts for both offshore and onshore use.
It’s far easier to install permanent and effective secondary containment onshore than offshore. While offshore oil platforms are designed to give some amount of containment on the structure, a large-scale spill will overwhelm this system and release oil into the surrounding waters. With careful engineering and impermeable liners that seal tightly together at the seams, it’s possible to create containment that covers multiple acres of ground when working onshore. Take advantage of the many opportunities for containment over the ground and work creatively to keep offshore spills minimized in volume and impact.
BTL Liners is happy to help answer questions about both offshore and onshore containment.