Finland’s latest icebreaker, the Polaris, is not only the first LNG icebreaker in the world, but also the first icebreaker to have an in-built oil recovery system. The system was tested for the first time off the coast of Helsinki on 27 September 2018. Arctia Ltd, which is the owner and operator of IB Polaris, is ready to offer oil recovery services in Arctic waters in addition to the Baltic Sea.
The in-built oil recovery system of Arctia’s latest icebreaker Polaris was tested for the first time at sea on 27 September 2018. From the shipping company’s point of view, an in-built system improves the efficiency of oil recovery and the preparation for it in many different ways. In addition to the vessel’s crew, the equipment supplier, Lamor, also took part in the testing of the oil recovery equipment. The company also develops oil recovery in ice conditions in cooperation with Arctia.
The equipment tested in the exercise included, e.g. the skimmer located inside the ship’s hull, and the collection booms. Efficient maneuvering and operation of the vessel in an oil recovery situation was also practiced in addition to the equipment tests. With its equipment, the Polaris is able to collect about 1 400 m³ of oil at one go with a rate of 200 m³/h in harsh weather and ice conditions.
In a real oil recovery situation, the speed of the vessels is usually low, close to two knots. At low speed, Polaris’ advanced navigability is utilized during slow forward and sideways movement. Sideways operation works in rough water, when the entire side of the vessel can be used for directing the oil into the collection tank.
Although IB Polaris is technically prepared for oil recovery operations, the shipowner Arctia Ltd. does not currently have an agreement on oil recovery preparedness in the Baltic Sea. Therefore, the vessel is not in operational oil recovery readiness. Arctia Ltd is ready to offer its services for operational readiness and the appropriate maintenance of the equipment.
“The oil recovery preparedness of IB Polaris and also other icebreakers would be sensible in order to safeguard a sufficient level of oil recovery preparedness in the Gulf of Finland and the entire Northern Baltic Sea. In winter, icebreakers work at hubs for merchant vessel traffic, and equipping them to operate as oil recovery vessels would significantly enhance the current level of preparedness in oil spill response. In addition, the icebreaker pier in Katajanokka in Helsinki is situated close to the most significant oil transport lanes in the Baltic Sea,” Arctia’s Communications Manager Eero Hokkanen points out.
The cost of today’s exercise is met by Arctia itself, and it is part of the autumn test operation of the icebreaker fleet. Test operations ensure that the icebreakers are ready for their icebreaking duties before the winter sets in. Icebreaker Sisu is next in line for a test run.
The first two icebreaking seasons of the LNG icebreaker Polaris have proved that oil recovery preparedness and the use of LNG are compatible with each other. LNG as a means of propulsion supports slow speeds that are essential for successful oil recovery operations in the open sea. The technical solutions required by LNG also support year-round vessel operation and oil recovery preparedness.
Therefore, IB Polaris has significantly increased Arctia’s abilities to operate efficiently in oil recovery tasks also in more demanding weather conditions in the open sea. The last oil recovery exercise of Arctia’s vessel IB Kontio until further notice was held on Saturday, 19 March 2016, off the coast of Oulu. The oil recovery readiness agreement between Arctia and the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) expired on 13 April 2016, after which the oil recovery equipment was stripped from the Kontio and returned to the EMSA. Arctia is still capable of using IB Kontio’s tank capacity, i.e. its reception and discharge capacity, in emergency oil recovery situations.
Arctia continues to develop oil recovery operations in ice conditions. In March 2017, Arctia and Lamor presented the results of their joint Ice Management & Oil Recovery (IMOR) project. The end result of the project was a number of operational means to maneuver the vessel effectively in ice conditions in an oil recovery situation.
“Today we got a clear overview of our capabilities to use the Polaris’ oil recovery equipment in an efficient way. Currently, oil recovery readiness is ensured in the Bothnian Arc by our harbour icebreaker Ahto, which has a cooperation agreement with the Emergency Service of Lapland,” says Arctia’s Development & Environmental Manager Hanna Suutarla.
“In addition to Polaris, Lamor has delivered oil recovery equipment to a number of the most advanced icebreakers in the world. It is important to us to receive feedback on exactly these kinds of exercises and to further develop our equipment,” says Lamor’s Chief Operating Officer Rune Högström.
Polaris has received funding from the EU’s TEN-T programme.
Arctia Ltd. safeguards Finnish maritime transport in ice conditions of the Baltic Sea and provides icebreaking, offshore and oil recovery services in challenging conditions at sea throughout the world. Arctia continues the Finnish icebreaking tradition of more than 125 years with one of the most versatile icebreaker fleets in the world.
Lamor Corporation, with its strategically located offices, hubs and partners worldwide, is a global market leader in oil spill response and environmental solutions for a wide range of scenarios and climatic conditions. Headquartered in Porvoo, the Finnish family enterprise Lamor has sold oil recovery equipment to 120 countries and delivered systems to more than 1,800 vessels throughout the world.
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