Agua-Guard Spill Response co-owners Nigel Bennett and Cameron Janz welcomed the local maritime community to their Coquitlam facilities in mid-April to showcase their state-of-the-art oil skimming systems. With a variety of systems on view, Bennett and Janz spent some time with BC Shipping News to provide an overview of their patented RBS TRITONTM oil-skimming technology. With a bit of supplemented research to learn more, we found yet another local B.C. company who has applied innovation and ingenuity to become an international success.
Before being incorporated in 1992, Aqua-Guard Spill Response Inc.’s, Co-founders: Nigel Bennett, Sue Willis and Lawrence Pertile for 10 years worked in the oil spill response consulting business helping to provide oil spill consulting and training services all over the world. Following the Exxon Valdez spill and the resultant U.S. OPA 90 (Oil Pollution Act 1990) and Canada Shipping Act amendments requiring all vessels and facilities involved in the transport of oil to have Tier One response capabilities (i.e., the ability to respond to a localized spill), Aqua-Guard was formed.
While the incorporation of Aqua-Guard marked a shift for the co-founders (Janz joined in 2000) from a consulting firm to an equipment-based company, they continued to provide their professional expertise to government and private companies, especially in Alaska where in the 1990s, they were involved in the re-write of no less than 200 contingency plans and supplied over 35 RBS (Rotating Brush Skimmer) oil skimming packages for the Alyeska pipeline.
A major milestone for the company was in 1994 when they developed the first interchangeable RBS brush, drum and disc oil skimmer. Over the next 20 years, Aqua-Guard continually developed their RBS oil-skimming system, reaching new and greater benchmarks with each evolution. The first generation RBS offshore oil skimming system, was developed for the major Korean oil companies in 1999. By 2006, they had launched a new generation of RBS TRITONTM skimmer technology that, under the watchful eyes of ABS (American Bureau of Shipping) and DNV, proved it could recover over 300 per cent more oil compared to their previous RBS Brush skimmers. In 2010, they developed the URO offshore oil skimming system for Petrobas Brasil, a self-contained and fully remote system controlled by one operator. The, the URO 600, is capable of recovering over 600 cubic metres per hour and is the largest skimmer of its kind, being supplied to oil companies and offshore supply vessel companies throughout the world.
State of the art
With facilities in North Vancouver and Coquitlam as well as a 25-year partnership with a large manufacturing company in Surrey, Bennett and Janz have been manufacturing a wide range of spill response systems for clients around the world, including most, if not all of the major oil companies. The larger models — like the URO 300 and 600 for offshore — are manufactured in Surrey and assembled in Coquitlam. The medium and smaller skimmers are built in North Vancouver.
The range of products is notable and diverse. In addition to the URO and RBS TRITONTM Skimmers, Aqua-Guard provides weir skimmers, offloading pumps, oil containment booms, boom storage, oil storage tanks, vacuum and dispersant systems. The inventory allows Aqua-Guard to offer a one-stop, total solution package for clients.
Depending on the environment — whether it be open, protected or calm water, or for industrial areas — Aqua-Guard’s RBS TRITONTM systems range from 35 m3/h up to 600 m3/h. The systems have been proven in hundreds of oil spills and industrial site incidents worldwide. They have the unique ability to recover any type of oil as well as an up to 98 per cent oil to water recovery efficiency, reducing storage volume requirements.
During Aqua-Guard’s open house in mid-April, a new system for the Western Canada Marine Response Corporation was on display, ready for delivery. The RBS TRITONTM 150T (Trailer), mounted on a customized road trailer system, will be added to WCMRC’s assets on Vancouver Island. An RBS TRITONTM 150 OS (Offshore) oil skimming system was recently supplied and mounted onboard Barge 18, one of WCMRC’s response vessels in Vancouver Harbour.
While none were available for display at the open house, the larger systems — the URO 600 and URO 300 Offshore Skimming Systems — have been seen on the West Coast during trials at Vancouver Drydock. “We’ll run the systems for seven to 10 days to test and ensure it’s up to our quality standards,” Bennett said.
Beyond the technology
Beyond the extensive research and development that results in continuous improvements to their patented technology, Aqua-Guard is a “total solutions provider” according to Bennett. “We have a team of experts who will work closely with clients to determine the scope of their needs, evaluate options and supply fully customized solutions. Everything is taken into consideration, from local environmental laws to optimizing return on investment.” He further noted that maintenance programs, training packages and audit services are available for all solutions.
In addition to developing solutions for oil containment and recovery for refineries, oil spill response organizations, and government agencies, Aqua-Guard also provides solutions for ports and harbours. “Our ISO/IMO-certified staff provide professional assessments and are able to put together a recommended Tier 1 response system that best meets the needs of the harbour,” Bennett said. Aqua-Guard has worked in 104 countries worldwide to provide guidance, assessments, equipment, and maintenance programs.
The future looks bright
Given their track record, we can expect to continue to see new and increasingly effective oil spill response products being developed by Aqua-Guard. Of particular promise is the continued development of the URO and RBS TRITONTM systems. The international network of support — over 100 partners worldwide — is another factor that works in their favour as Bennett admits that most of their business comes from outside of Canada. Despite the international scope of their business and the success achieved beyond our borders, Aqua-Guard is another company – one of many profiled in BC Shipping News — that puts B.C. on the map for providing world-class products and service.