Port of Gothenburg introduces robot for containing oil spills

A new robot for deploying booms in the event of an oil spill has been introduced at the Port of Gothenburg.

According to the Port of Gothenburg, this new technology is supposed to secure more rapid and safer oil spill clearance.

Dan-Erik Andersson, Head of Operations at the Energy Port in Gothenburg, said: “What is most important is that the oil is contained as quickly as possible to allow clearance to begin.”

According to the press release, SEK 3.5 million ($416,307) has been invested in an automatic GPS-controlled boom. It is further explained that in the event of a spill, a member of staff at the Energy Port office presses a button on the wall. This activates a torpedo-like unmanned craft that travels around the dock towing a 400-metre-long boom. The automatic boom is made of plastic and is half a metre below water and 20 cm above water.

“The robot tows the boom from one pier to another. It could be said that it forms a large bag in which the oil is collected. It has already been in operation once for testing and the results were good,” said Dan-Erik.

Compared with towing booms manually using boats, the automatic boom saves time, the press release reads. It takes approximately 10 minutes to contain a spill compared to half an hour when the booms are towed by boat.

“These are valuable minutes if we are to limit the spill as much as possible,” Dan-Erik Andersson stated.

The Port of Gothenburg stated that they started working on the automatic boom project with a Gothenburg-based SP Marine five years ago.

“It has taken a long time to adapt the robot to the conditions in the Göta Älv river and at the Energy Port and that is why it feels particularly gratifying now that development has been completed,” said Dan-Erik Andersson.

Similar robots are used in Malmö and are being developed in Stenungsund.

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