A computer simulation program has been developed to aid in the evaluation of the oil-spill contingency plans for offshore operations. Using this program, the performance of oil-spill recovery equipment can be simulated as a function of oil-spill size, spill location, and weather. The unique feature of the program is its ability to predict oil recovery as a function of weather conditions. The weather data used consist of the historical wave height frequency distribution and wave height persistence. The oil thickness, which is determined by spreading of the oil, and the wave state determine the performance of recovery equipment.
When using the program, oil-spill events and cleanup operations are simulated many times. Each time the weather conditions used in the simulation will be different, owing to the probabilistic nature of weather in the real world and the use of random access to the weather data. In this way a probabilistic estimate of oil recovery is produced for any given oil-spill incident and equipment array. Simulations are presented using state-of-the-art equipment, although the use of improved equipment can be simulated. The results show the need for rapid response and for containment for sudden spills due to the rapid thinning of uncontained oil.