We identify risks and vulnerable areas, providing effective responses

The development of efficient real-time measuring and monitoring systems of marine processes, complemented by numerical applications enabling sea’s behaviour forecasts, is contributing significantly to mitigate the impact of accidental events, such as oil spills.

To do so, AZTI’s researchers collect and complement all of the available ocean-meteorological information (currents, wind, tides, etc.), whilst characterising the different discharges (potential discharge points, discharge type and volume…) and the vulnerable areas (depending on physical, biological and socio-economic factors).

In order to evaluate the likelihood of accidental spill pollutants (oil, floating objects, bacteria or any other substance being conveyed) to reach a certain point on the coast or other elements of interest (such as shellfishing areas), they simulate the path and final destination of potential discharges through numeric modelling, whilst analysing vulnerability.

Therefore, it goes beyond compliance with prevailing legislation on marine contingency plans (Royal Decree 253/2004, of 13th February and RD 1695/2012 of 21st December). Indeed, to complement regulatory requirements, AZTI is developing the GIS-based Risk Assessment System, which uses a web application with a geovisor to assess the pollution risk depending on meteorological, oceanographic and environmental conditions, as well as vulnerability.

AZTI characterises and simulates the path and final fate of potential spills, whilst analysing the most vulnerable areas.

Applicable sectors

  • Public administrations and official bodies.
  • People in charge for industrial activities with potential oil spill risks (refineries, shipyards, energy production facilities, fuel suppliers to vessels, etc.). Similar for other types of discharges from other activities.


  • Improve preparedness and response to accidental oil spills (for example, improved planning of material and human resources to be mobilised in the event of an accident).
  • Presentation of contingency plans to stakeholders involved (Maritime Authorities, companies involved in the response).
  • Improve response (decision-making) to a real discharge thanks to the 72 hour forecast of the accidental oil spill path in the marine environment or port (beyond the specifications of contingency plan regulations).
  • Simplify understanding of the information received via a contamination risk assessment geovisor web that can be used both as a planning and an operational tool.

We have prepared oil spill Contingency Plans for the Bilbao Port Authority, Pasaia Port Authority and the Gaviota Platform. We have also participated in the Contingency Plan for Las Palmas Port in Gran Canaria.


  • Delivery formats and means (written report, web application and desktop application).
  • Implementation: between 2 and 6 months.


  • Over 15 years experience with a multi-disciplinary team.
  • Knowledge of the marine environment and the methodology for scenario calculation, simulations, mapping, etc.
  • Specific technologies available:
    • Own simulation models adaptable to the client.
    • Other simulation models, such as ROMS, MOHID or Delft3D.
    • Oceanographic and meteorological data collection equipment.
    • Geographic data server.
    • Web Geovisors.