Cleanup of an offshore emulsion spill, an experimental approach

A. Y. Zekri, O. Chaalal, M. Ghannam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


An emulsion leak during offshore oil production operations is a real problem facing the oil industry. No work has been reported in the literature covering a technique for offshore emulsion spill cleanup. A vacuum collection system was used in this project to study the possibility of mechanical removal of emulsion spills. The system consists of a sea water unit, emulsion-collecting system, vacuum unit, and air distributors. A number of operating parameters were tested, such as air flow rate 0.0167 × 103-0.15 × 103 m3/sec), emulsion spill thickness (0.6-3.5 mm), the height of water column in the emulsion removal system (0.40-0.85 m), and the collection unit hole size and density. The system has been tested before for the oil spill and has been found to be a simple, fast cleaning process, efficient with minimum cost. The results of this study indicated that hole density in the collection unit has an effect on the emulsion cleanup process, and increasing the air flow rate increases the amount of emulsion removed from the system until a certain rate at which the opposed effect was observed, i.e., the studied system exhibited an optimum air flow rate for the collection of emulsion. In addition, the height of the water column has an effect on the cleaning process; an optimum water column height is needed to be determined for any designed emulsion removal system similar to the system used in this study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-130
Number of pages10
JournalEnergy Sources, Part A: Recovery, Utilization and Environmental Effects
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 17 2014


  • Cleanup
  • Efficiency
  • Emulsion
  • Mechanical removal
  • Spill

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology


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