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Immediate Oil Spill containment to mitigate impact on the marine ecosystem

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - OILBLOCK (Immediate Oil Spill containment to mitigate impact on the marine ecosystem)

Reporting period: 2016-08-01 to 2016-11-30

In Europe alone, about 20,000 oil spills were detected over a period of 6 years. Oil spills turn into major disasters because no immediate containment equipment is housed on-board large ships and oil rigs, so nothing can prevent oil from spreading during the first hours of a spill. Thus the damage grows exponentially with time of response.
OILBLOCK project brings to market a disruptive solution to improve oil spill response (OSR) systems efficiency. By containing spills before they spread, HARBO’s primary containment system will fundamentally alter the way organizations, policy makers and regulators prepare for - and respond to oil spills. OILBLOCK commercializes a lightweight boom that weighs less than 1/15th of traditional booms and that takes up a fraction of the storage. The boom is disposable and its innovative system enables immediate deployment of up to 2,000 meters of boom at the spill location in less than 30 minutes to encircle and contain the spill, with no need for specialty crews. OILBLOCK will increase effectiveness of Oil Spill Recovery Operations from a range of 7-15% of oil recovery to a total recovery of more than 50% of spilled oil. The solution has raised the interest of various stakeholders such as emergency response organizations, coast guards, shipping lines, oil rig operators and coastal infrastructure facilities among others.
The project aims at demonstrating an Immediate Booming Vessel consisting of a dedicated vessel adapted to host HARBO’s boom deployment unit and that will provide an immediate and safe on-site containment of oil spills. The system will be tested in real world conditions such as off-shore, in a port and on a tanker and under the supervision of high-end world known customers. These tests will be trusted by the industry and together with the dissemination activities will enable to gain customers quickly. After the feasibility study results, the company decided to first target one of the considered applications, which is expected to reach a sales rate hundreds of units per year with an expected annual turnover of over €50 million by 2023. This growth will be reflected in the recruitment of dozens of new employees by HARBO in next five years. By 2028 sales are expected to boost to a few thousand units since regulators will consider HARBO’s technology as a benchmark for oil spill primary containment.
An important step in product evolution to market readiness is the evaluation of technical, commercial and financial viability. Thanks to the award of a Phase 1 grant within H2020 SME Instrument, HARBO has taken advantage of this Feasibility Study to prepare a feasible route to market ensuring the most efficient path.
From a technical point of view HARBO has carried out a refinement of the technology objectives by providing with a detailed list of components and their operational requirements, as well as with the proper production methods to ensure the evolution from TRL6 to TRL9. HARBO has identified and preselected components suppliers in the fields of plastic and maritime vehicles in accordance with the different applications of the system, while they continue reviewing potential additional suppliers as backup in the search for lower production costs.
Detailed design of field-tests scenarios required to demonstrate the solution in operational environments have been outlined as well as the identification of potential improvements targeting to obtain a complete qualified system. Moreover, a technical analysis to identify potential risks in procurement, manufacturing and operation has been carried out in order to pre-design a production line able to be adapted to potential improvements resulting of the field tests.
From the commercial point of view HARBO conducted a market assessment including demand forecasting, competitor profiling, partnerships, technology trends analysis, Freedom to Operate check and IPR protection strategy and identification of key regulators and how to reach them. Following interviews with potential customers, HARBO concluded that a specific application is preferred for a number of users and decided to work first on the development of this specific solution.
HARBO contacted key potential partners such as Oil Spill Response Organizations, tanker and vessel manufacturers and other key stakeholders such as regulators to develop its exploitation strategy and reach successful commercialization. A marketing strategy has been outlined and commercial and financial objectives have been aligned with technical forecasted achievements. As a result HARBO developed a Business Plan defining revenues, costs, cash flow, and ROI until 2023.
Due to the forecast of revenues, margins and return on investment HARBO concluded that it should continue with the development of OILBLOCK proposal.
As a result of being granted with this phase 1, HARBO contacted and some of the most influential oil spill response related stakeholders in the world. These stake holders support HARBO’s immediate Oil Spill Response solution and are interested in collaborating with HARBO; in purchasing, installing HARBO’s system in their ships or coastal facilities; and/or in distributing HARBO’s system once it has been validated. HARBO also participated in a few trade events including Cleangulf and interviewed dozens of stakeholders in the field. HARBO is developing a couple of product lines based on its core technology and is targeting specifically a further phase 2 in order to develop one of the applications, that answers the needs of tankers and oil rigs. Thus, phase 2 will be targeted to the following critical activities:
- Optimize the design of boom’s deployment and collection system including its integration within dedicated vessels for inland waters and off-shore uses.
- Finalize the market exploration to select the best solution from the pre-selected existing solutions and suppliers and close commercial agreements.
- Design and manufacture at least 2 specific prototypes and test them in various real-world conditions. These vessels will serve as demonstrations vessels in Europe and all over the world.
- Consolidate the supply chain and design the scaling-up of the manufacturing line.
- Protect the new application and commercially exploit T-Fence patented technology.
- Refine OILBLOCK international commercialization plan, including the final costs and market prices of boom, refill cartridges and vessels targeting to achieve a meaningful penetration share of the available European market in the first five years after commercialization.
- After 5 years of product commercialization, cumulative turnover is expected to be over €140 million and it has a 3 year payback.