New FoxTail could clean up Arctic spills

Malcolm Latarche
Malcolm Latarche

07 January 2019

A new oil spill response device capable of cleaning up spills in arctic conditions and contributing to Norway’s spill preparedness has been developed by risk reduction specialist H Henriksen. Dubbed Arctic FoxTail, the new device is a new winterised version of the company’s standard Foxtail mop skimmer.

Following recent testing on board MS Polarsyssel in Longyearbyen, Svalbard, H Henriksen released its new device, a major redesign of its standard VAB (Vertical Adhesion Band) model with integrated transfer pump, insulated cover and a hydraulic heating system. During testing, the new device proved capable of stable and continuous operation in sub-zero arctic conditions.

Arctic Fox
During testing in Longyearbyen, the new device proved that the weather window have been increased.

As part of its efforts to enhance Norway’s oil spill preparedness, the Norwegian Clean Seas Association for Operating Companies (NOFO) and Norwegian Coastal Administration (NCA) launched its ‘Oil spill Response 2015 Program’, inviting vendors to develop equipment to handle oil spill recovery in arctic conditions. H Henriksen’s Arctic FoxTail proposal was accepted and development of the protype started in 2016.

Filtering out oil spills from the seawater using its sorbent mops, FoxTail VAB is already well known throughout the maritime industry and capable of salvaging large quantities of oil after a spill, without much unnecessary water.

“Operating in the arctic conditions is a challenge in any segment of the maritime industry, as these regions are both inhospitable and environmentally sensitive,” said Trygve Egenes, Managing Director of Tonsberg-based H Henriksen.

The scope of the project was to widen the weather widow in which oil can be taken from the water with skimmers. The old skimmers are very redundant to the sea state and weather and have proven their ability; however, cold weather will reduce their efficiency when ice starts growing on the machines. This ice-growth mainly comes from sea-spray.

The standard FoxTail operates in -6°C, compared to the new Arctic Foxtail which can operate -21°C under the same sea temperature and wind conditions. H Henriksen is now delivering the first Arctic FoxTail to the Norwegian Coastal Administration.