CSIRO has gained critical knowledge in marine incidents by participating in international response operations.

The challenge

Oil spills and other marine incidents can result in serious environmental impacts

Marine incidents such as oil spills from ships or offshore oil and gas projects can result in serious environmental impacts.

While our main objective is to develop the knowledge and technology to prevent marine incidents and understand pre-spill ecosystems, should an incident strike: we are prepared.

Response decisions have to be made under high pressure, quickly, so we've developed a rapid response monitoring team to provide responders with a detailed understanding of the impacts.

Our response

A multidisciplinary research agency

Our work has global relevance and impact. We work with industry, governments and academia to provide objective scientific knowledge and advice for offshore oil, gas and shipping; covering the environmental, economic and social factors associated with the entire oil and gas value chain.

We can provide the data and scientific advice required for risk assessments covering regulatory approval, exploration, production, transportation, decommissioning, and emergency response to spills and mitigation.

CSIRO offers the essential scientific information required for ecosystem based management decisions that allow society to benefit from its commercial activities while protecting our marine habitat and the life within it.

Our multidisciplinary research agency has access to over 600 ocean scientists and engineers, including marine geochemists, geologists, chemists, biologists, toxicologists and oceanographers. At any time, we can draw on this pool of researchers to obtain world class scientific advice.

Our expertise covers:

  • Oceanography and marine science
  • Biodiversity assessment and seabed mapping
  • Integrated marine observing and forecasting
  • National and international experience in oil spill response
  • Damage assessment and environmental monitoring
  • Remediation using microbial digestion
  • Characterisation of hydrocarbons in marine environments
  • Ecological monitoring and ecotoxicology
  • Scientific and technical advice for oil spill countermeasures

The results

Critical knowledge from international response operations

CSIRO has gained critical knowledge by participating in international response operations.

Monitoring the BP oil spill:

Effective management of oil spills relies on information about what has been spilled and where it’s likely to go. In 2010, CSIRO's prototype hydrocarbon sensor array helped BP and US maritime authorities to understand the location and movement of spilled oil in the Gulf of Mexico.

Emergency expertise:

In January 2012, the cargo ship MV Tycoon broke up at Flying Fish Cove, Christmas Island, spilling tonnes of diesel oil, fuel oil and phosphate dust into the sea. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority asked CSIRO to assist in developing environmental monitoring strategies.

Montara Oil spill:

CSIRO was engaged by PTTEP to provide a literature based summary and risk analysis on the potential impacts of the November 2009 oil spill on fisheries off northwestern Australia. This information, led by CSIRO and compiled via a series of workshops by experts from around Australia, was used as the basis for understanding the potential impacts of the spill on the regional fisheries.

The MV Tycoon grinds against the wharf at Christmas Island off the north coast of Western Australia after the ship broke its moorings in large swells on January 8, 2012.  ©Scott Fisher

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