Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Specific challenge: The development of deep sea resources exploitation (particularly offshore Oil and Gas) is moving maritime operations to extreme pressure and low temperature conditions, with many unknown factors and limited response capacity.

As shown by the Gulf of Mexico accident in 2010, besides the lack of appropriate means to deal with a large scale pollution event at high depth/pressure, it is particularly challenging:

  • to predict and measure the evolution of the pollution (e.g. oil spill, chemical pollution), in order to balance efficiency of the response with its environmental impact.;

  • to design an appropriate response combining the right mix of interventions (e.g. mechanical collection, burning oil on surface, use of dispersants, bioremediation, natural dispersion or transformation of spilled oil…).

Given these challenges and to reinforce national capacities, the mandate of the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) was extended to provide assistance to EU Member States to respond to pollution from oil and gas installations (besides pollution from ships).

There is a need to develop the capacity for rapid response to unanticipated and episodic marine pollution events in different types of oceanic conditions, including in closed basins and open seas, by advancing scientific and technological knowledge.

Scope: Proposals should aim at developing an integrated operational response capacity to major offshore and/or coastal pollution events (particularly oil & gas), including in extreme oceanic conditions. The integrated approach should combine oceanographic prediction of the pollution behaviour, understanding of the pollution impact including the role of marine microbial communities, use of physical, chemical and biological remediation and its impact on ecosystems, the use of specialised vessels and underwater (autonomous) vehicles. Proposals should improve the European operational response capacity to such events, with in particular integrated models and tools that can be tested for a better preparedness and support decision making in the management of such events. They should also cover, as appropriate, recommendations for infrastructure works to help protect sensitive ecosystems in high risk areas.

In line with the objectives of the EU strategy for international cooperation in research and innovation (COM (2012) 497), proposals should benefit from the inclusion of partners established in third countries, in particular the US and Canada[1], given the high potential for knowledge sharing in this field[2].

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the range of EUR 4–6 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected impact:

·         Develop an integrated capacity to optimally respond to major marine pollution events (particularly oil & gas) combining oceanographic modelling of pollution behaviour, physical, chemical and biological mitigation as well as infrastructures;

·         Mitigate negative impacts of marine pollution on the marine environment, coastal economies and communities;

·         Improve the integration between the scientific community and relevant government agencies charged with dealing with pollution, including cross-border and trans-boundary co-operation;

·         Reduce risks of the new offshore economy and improve the business environment for Blue Growth investments;

·         Contribute to the implementation of the Directive 2013/30/EU on safety of offshore oil and gas prospection, exploration and production activities and to the Offshore Protocol of the Barcelona Convention in the Mediterranean;

·         Contribute to the effectiveness of EMSA's operational capacity to respond to pollution from oil and gas installations

·         Improve societal acceptance of offshore activities.

·         Increase competitiveness of European industry including SMEs within the marine industrial sector


Type of action: Research and innovation actions

[1] This is without prejudice to the general rules on the funding of legal entities from third-countries, as set in part A of the annex to the work programme.

[2] See Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation Launching a Canada- European Union- United States of America  Research Alliance (Galway, 24th of May 2013) and related Final scientific report

Record Number: 664758 / Last updated on: 2015-03-25