Simulators for improving Cross-Border Oil Spill Response in Extreme Conditions
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SIMREC project aims at mitigating the risks oil-spills pose on the environment of the Gulf of Finland by fostering cooperation between Finland and Russia and jointly developing a new generation of training simulations. By combining the know-how and expertise of authorities as well as research institutions of both countries, the project’s objective is to develop tailored training programs and optimize the preparedness of response teams.

The centerpiece of SIMREC is the development of an innovative and cost-efficient simulation environment training that capacitates response teams to maximize the efficiency of their operations. These simulations will be elaborated based on a set of scenarios reflecting potential oil-spills. Scenarios will consider data and predictions on maritime traffic as well as data on the impact of extreme weather and sea conditions on certain areas. Based on this data, hot spots for accidents can be located and all information converted into scenarios that are used for simulation training.

In order to guarantee the success of joint simulation trainings, it is crucial to secure the connectivity of maritime simulators across borders across borders are connected. The Russian and Finnish authorities can develop joint response operations for large-scale oil incidents in the most cost-effective and resource efficient way. Integral parts of this development process are personnel training and investments in network infrastructure.

In order to guarantee the success of simulation systems, a well elaborated training model for oil-spill response simulations is essential. Therefore, one of the main tasks of SIMREC is to compile a training model for response authorities in Finland and Russia that comprises both practical simulation trainings and lectures on the topic. With technical expertise and practical know-how, a unique training environment that offers the opportunity to train a variety of controllable scenarios in a realistic, cost-efficient and risk-free way will be developed.

A fundamental pillar of a successful oil-spill response operation is well-considered, responsible and efficient decision-making. In order to optimize operations, SIMREC aims to elaborate protocols and tools that facilitate persons responsible to enhance their decision-making and communication. Existing patterns of communication and decision-making will be analyzed and converted into a roadmap providing recommendations for best national and cross-border practices. A key factor in the process of fully understanding the nature of successful decision-making and information sharing during operations is to consider the different settings in Finland and Russia and the country-specific factors affecting operations.

Another fundamental task of operation optimizing is the analysis of the current preparedness level of the different actors. All factors impacting preparedness, such as lack of infrastructure in operational situations, lack of availability of recovery response vessels ships, changes in maritime transport chains or environmental changes, need to be assessed to bring preparedness to the highest level and ensure the best possible oil-spill reaction operation.


The South-East Finland-Russia CBC 2014-2020 programme is the main contributor.
The total budget for the project is EUR 1 467 266.

Project partners


SIMREC brochure ENG

SIMREC brochure RUS


Assessing and managing the risks of oil accidents – Doctoral dissertation

Liangliang Lu, a member of the Kotka Maritime Research Centre’s research community, defended his doctoral dissertation on 18 June 2021 at Aalto University in the field of marine technology. The opponent was Professor Zaili Yang from Liverpool John Moores University.

During his thesis work, Lu has developed methods for assessing and managing the risks of oil accidents in challenging icy conditions, the case study area being the northern Baltic Sea.

As the annual ice-covered period shortens, new shipping lanes will open-up in the Arctic and subarctic seas. When shipping in these challenging conditions increases, the likelihood of accidents increases. The low-biodiversity northern ecosystems are particularly vulnerable to various disturbances and the oil spill could have more devastating consequences in these areas than average. Oil spill response in icy conditions is also highly challenging and its success uncertain.

Lianliang Lu’s thesis focuses specifically on improving the effectiveness of oil spill response in ice conditions. It starts by developing a holistic system model that describes a chain of events from a ship collision to the amount of oil leaking from a tanker, oil drifting in the ocean, and eventually oil spill response in ice conditions.

“In order to propose effective risk management measures, we must first understand the risk-generating system,” says Lu.

“Systems modeling helps to identify the most critical factors affecting the effectiveness of oil spill response. On this basis, it is possible to start planning optimal risk management measures – that is, measures to improve oil spill response,” he states.

The thesis then identifies the operability of an oil spill response vessel in ice as one of the most critical factors influencing the success of oil spill response. On this basis, Lu has developed a new type of operability index based on transit modelling in dynamic ice, to be used as a tool during oil spill response operations. The index is calculated for each response vessel and is intended to assist in the planning and execution of a spill response operation under the environmental and ice conditions prevailing at the time of the accident.

Lianliang Lu’s thesis have been partly conducted as part of the SIMREC -project.

The thesis consists of five scientific articles and a summary titled as ”Risk management of ship-source oil spill in ice conditions in the Northern Baltic Sea”. The summary can be downloaded from the Aaltodoc publication archive.


Oil Spill Response in the Northern Baltic and Arctic Areas-Twitter conference 14.1.2021

Three EU funded Research projects, all developing countermeasures against oil pollution, will have the joint Twitter conference 14th January 2021, at 10:00 am – 2.00 pm (UCT+2).

ACBR (Arctic Coast Bioremediation) will show some of the latest results how to use biotechnology for comprehensive remediation of oil-contaminated marine coastal areas in the Arctic.

SIMREC (Simulators for improving Cross-Border Oil Spill Response in Extreme Conditions) will highlight effort s to use simulators as novel platforms for training and research to develop joint procedures for the cross the border co-operation in the Eastern part of the Gulf of Finland

OILSPILL (Enhancing oil spill response capability in the Baltic Sea Region) will focus on the oil spill response capability on the Baltic Sea region.

Join us in January: #BAOIL21


Anna Kiiski Executive director Kotka Maritime Research Association Anna Kiiski acts as the Executive Director of Kotka Maritime Research Center (KMRC). Anna is a long-range professional when it comes to the international RDI cooperation, particularly in topics related to maritime safety and logistics and marine environmental impacts. She has been leading and supervising preparation of several international project funding applications targeted to research, regional development, and business cooperation. She also has a long experience of fostering interactions between scientific community and society.

Implementation time

1.9.2019 - 31.8.2022