Oil Skimmer Manufacturer

There is a myriad of manufacturers of oil skimmers and it seems there is no shipyard, big or small, who has not competed at least once in their construction.

In the appendix we attach a list of “skimmer vendors” that makes the idea of the size and geographical spread of the market.


The reason for so much interest depends probably also from these considerations:

  • large amount of resources made available for remediation;
  • growing public sensitivity to care, protection and maintenance of the environment.


The financial resources management in emergency events such as those we are here dealing is not amenable under the usual standards of evaluation and weighting of cost/benefit ratio neither the same costs/benefits ratio can be traced to standardized assessments. It must be taken into account both the objectivity of the facts and the strong emotional impact that they generate in the general social mind.

The costs can be very high and due to various kind of damages, ranging from the environment to things, from the people to their activities, from the objective facts as losing earnings to the subjective existential damage, from predictable shoreline pollution to unpredictable pollution of an aquifer etc.


These facts generate very high (and righteous) social alarms, which in turn requires to the ruling classes of public and private, in a short time and “no expense spared”, to:

  • intervene where there is an objective need to remove or reduce damage and also
  • to demonstrate their organizational efficiency for
      • reduce the “feeling of fear” induced by the risk of catastrophe and
      • ensure the successful acquisition of sufficient sensitivity for environmental protection.


In emergency situations, in proportion to the social sensitivity of the geographical area in which they occur (eg higher in the US than in Nigeria), they engender strong interactions between manufacturers of reclamation systems and their users.

Even in non-emergency situations for the normal management of the “public good sea” there is a high and increasing social sensitivity to environmental protection requiring the use of tools, technical and organizational, to ensure in the best way the taking care of environment and to show the aim and the ability to do that.

The ruling classes of the public and the private are therefore constantly working to realize and demonstrate their commitment to the creation of specific organizations, for emergency response or dedicated to the maintenance of the water, which realizes itself with the further training of the assigned personnel and the purchase and renovation of the tools park to have the most effective of them available on the market.

This commitment creates consensus and appreciation that, notoriously, are priceless and therefore allow that the market for those instruments, and in particular of the skimmers, can be extended and varied in its offer.


The offer responds both to

  • the limited economic resources of small municipalities or small coastal activity, with small boats more or less effective, but still suitable to demonstrate their good commitment, sia alla
  • and the high availability of large companies or wealthy municipalities that are owning a diverse park of equipments, including large and expensive ships destined to pass almost all of their life moored at a wharf.


The production is then directed to present always new instruments with characteristics and appeal that make them indispensable to demonstrate due attention to environmental protection both in terms of maintenance and in terms of preparedness for emergency response; the parameter that appears to have been taken as discriminating in this technological evolution race is the power in the extraction capacity.


So there is a lot of tension towards increasing powers that have grown up to 5-600 m³/h. The machine RBS Triton URO 600 AquaGuard (shown right) guarantees the extraction capacity of 604 m³/h at a cost of over one million dollars. It’s true that the suction head of this machine is self-propelled but it is equally true that it is firmly bound to the support ship and its range of movement is limited to a few tens of meters. The patch required to contain 500 cubic meters of oil, when the blanket is 1 cm thick and considering that the colors and reflections table considers thicknesses up to 1 mm, would be extended to 50,000 square meters, which should be kept at a constant thickness and routes in one hour by the skimmer to exploit about 80% of the rated output.

Note how in this promotional film the manufacturer gives much greater prominence to the emotional aspects than to the actual efficiency of its machines in the real theater of action, despite the initial recall about their participation in the works of reclamation in the Gulf of Mexico and the possibility of including, we believe, the shootings of the real interventions effectiveness.

Other hand in the Protocol “Application of the American Society of Testing and Materials’ (ASTM) New Skimmer Test Protocol” it’s written: in the towing tank of salt water in Ohmsett, New Jersey – “the thickness of the oil must be substantially constant to simulate the ideal test conditions. the tests run in 2007 showed that the growth of the thickness more than 5 cm (2 inches) doesn’t give significant variations in the rate of recovery of the oil (ORR – oil recovery rate). The rough indication is to pour into the tub 4100 L (1080 gallons) of oil to achieve an initial thickness of 7.5 cm (3 inches) and perform the test by measuring the efficiency of the skimmer leaving the oil thickness to decrease from 7.5 cm to 5 cm (from 3 inches to 2 inches).


We reiterate the irrefutable importance to consider the ability of extraction but even more important is the ability to intercept what is to be collected in order to feed in the best way the means of extraction: the emergence responses are not going to be run in closed tanks filled with oil.

What is apparent from the analysis of the state of the art of the products and the manufacturers is that many separation systems works very well but are not very effective in the interception of the pollutants to be collected and to achieve the purpose it is resorted to extreme and very costly solutions as the “Bottsand” ship.
In practice, in most cases, the method is the containment of the oil spill in a ring of floating booms and then to drop the oil skimmer inside that fence. The devices assembled as oil skimmers can reach the spot and cross it to collect part of it and are mostly boats equipped with conveyor belts: they are less maneuverable and generally inefficient.
Only the rigid floating arms by Koseq have the prerogative of being able to move through the slick with efficiency but are designed to intervention in burdensome oil spills and require complex support structures and a dedicated support ship that has to be so much dedicated that become itself part of the skimmer.
The situation is different for the absorbent booms that are able to do their work but require motor boats for the transport and laying, to be towed to meet the stain to absorb and then to be returned on board for transport to a landfill for disposal.


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