Old kids on the block at OTC

The Offshore Technology Conference isn’t just about the new, new thing.

Across some 650,000 square feet of display areas, there is also room for Oil Skimmer Inc.’s Model 6V Brill system, which has removed oily wastes that float on water for nearly a half-century.

And there is a place for InterOcean Systems Inc.’s device that allows drilling rigs to quickly disconnect from its moorings to avoid icebergs or hurricanes. A sign in the company’s booth boasts the Rig Anchor Release’s “proven reliability in the Arctic since the 1970s.”

“It’s like the Camry,” said Dan Gertler, an engineer for the San Diego-based company.

In other words — like Toyota’s sturdy sedan — its dependability makes up for its lack of sizzle. And it sells well.

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The rapid-release system sits on the chain that connects a rig to an anchor. When the rig needs to be moved quickly, the operator sends an acoustic signal – which sounds similar to a dolphin’s call – to cause the banana-shaped device to separate. A buoy rises from the piece that remains connected to the anchor so that it can be collected later.

Gertler said the company has worked out “a few kinks” over the years, but the design essentially has remained the same.

That’s also true for Oil Skimmer’s recovery system. The Cleveland-based company sold the first one in 1968, and it hasn’t changed much since then, said Ken Gray, a regional sales manager.

The device uses a floating, closed-loop tube that snakes through a spill to collect oil. The tube is pulled into the skimmer, where scrapers remove the oil and deposits it into a container. The tube then returns to the water to recover more oil.

Initially, the equipment was used to clean up oily messes at steel mills. It later was employed at disposal sites in the West Texas oil patch.

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Now, the company is trying to attract business from the offshore crowd. The skimmer, Gray said, can be used on vessels and offshore platforms to prevent onboard messes from spilling into the Gulf of Mexico.

Despite Oil Skimmer’s long history, Gray said this is only the company’s second appearance at the technology show. And that makes its old thing new.