Historically, once a ship sank below the surface, the oil that remained onboard became inaccessible to responders. In the last few years, however, there has been a significant push by both regulators and salvors to go deeper below the surface to recover oil trapped within a shipwreck. Recent examples in the United States include the recovery of oil from the SS JACOB LUCKENBACH in a water depth greater than 175-feet seawater (fsw) and the attempt to recover oil from the T/V BOW MARINER at a depth greater than 265 fsw.

This technical paper provides an analysis of recent technological advances available to recover oil at depth, from using saturation diving systems and manually connected viscous oil pumping systems to remotely operated vehicles and associated offloading systems. Recent case studies frame the presentation of advances in sub-sea oil recovery equipment and associated safety, logistical and financial considerations.

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