Surveillance, tracking, and model correlation of the spill from the tanker Burmah Agate




Kelly, F.J., Jr.
Hann, R.W. Jr.
Young, H.N.

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


American Petroleum Institute


The trajectory of the oil spilled from the tanker Burmah Agate passed through the extensively instrumented area of the U.S. Department of Energy Strategic Petroleum Reserve Brine Disposal Site off Freeport, Texas. Because of the potential impact of the spill on the 3-year baseline study, a major effort was made to monitor the slick movement, obtain samples, and collect and process oceanographic and meteorological data. Daily reconnaissance flights were made by the authors to obtain VOR position fixes of oil patches and document them with 35mm and color video cameras. The orientation, centroid position, and velocity of the initial impulse of oil from the collision, which was tracked as far as San Jose Island, Texas, have been computed for the first 9 days. These results, as well as daily summaries are presented. Continuous measurements of near-surface current at locations 6.5 and 11.5 nautical miles off Freeport, Texas and wind velocity at the 6.5 nautical mile location were also recorded, which provide a unique opportunity to correlate the oil movement with the traditional first-order approximation for oil transport. Good agreement between actual and predicted movements is found for the longshore component of motion, whereas the cross-shelf movement is not well predicted. The presence of a weak frontal zone in the coastal waters is suggested as a possible complicating factor.


pgs. 147-152


oil spills, sampling