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NETL’s Offshore Risk Modeling Simulation Tool Garners International Use

A digital tool developed by NETL researchers in collaboration with researchers from the University of Miami to make offshore oil production safer is being used around the world to inform a range of critical hydrocarbon exploration activities.

Six external research groups from countries including Mexico, Brazil, India and Saudi Arabia are using NETL’s Climatological Isolation and Attraction Model (CIAM) to understand predominant ocean current and wind patterns. Over the last several decades, oceanographers have come to understand the ocean as a fluid in turbulent, perpetual motion. With CIAM, it was shown for the first time that, hidden behind the ever-changing currents, there are persistent structures influencing how water or oil travels. This is invaluable information that can help improve safety measures in hydrocarbon exploration efforts, as well as predicting and preventing oil spills.

Part of NETL’s award-winning Offshore Risk Modeling (ORM) suite, CIAM was released in 2018 as part of NETL’s work to address the needs identified from lessons learned after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Research institutes from India, Saudi Arabia, Mexico and the U.S. have obtained preliminary research results from using CIAM, while Mexico’s Ensenada Center for Scientific Research and Higher Education have published two journal articles using the tool.

More recently, researchers from the National Institute for Space Research in Brazil, in collaboration with NETL researchers, applied CIAM to sea-surface circulation above the Santos and Campos basins off the coast of Brazil, where 87% of Brazil’s total oil production takes place. The institute’s research improves the understanding of past and potential future oil spills in the region, knowledge of Brazil’s regional oceanography and more. A paper summarizing the institute’s findings has been submitted for peer review.

CIAM provides a valuable tool for calculating climatological changes in ocean currents or atmospheric patterns. CIAM uses advanced mathematical tools and oceanographic information to efficiently extract ocean and atmospheric pathways from large datasets, providing likely transport behavior of oil, red tides, sediment, icebergs and more. It can also be used to evaluate ocean current-induced stresses that could impact infrastructure such as oil rigs or platforms.

NETL is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory that produces technological solutions for America’s energy challenges. From developing creative innovations and efficient energy systems that make coal more competitive, to advancing technologies that enhance oil and natural gas extraction and transmission processes, NETL research is providing breakthroughs and discoveries that support domestic energy initiatives, stimulate a growing economy, and improve the health, safety, and security of all Americans. Highly skilled men and women at NETL’s sites in Albany, Oregon; Anchorage, Alaska; Houston, Texas; Morgantown, West Virginia; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania conduct a broad range of research activities that support DOE’s mission to advance the national, economic, and energy security of the United States.