Centre for Offshore Oil, Gas and Energy Research (COOGER)

The Canadian Coast Guard research vessel CCGS Hudson approaches the Hibernia oil rig offshore of Newfoundland.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada established the Centre for Offshore Oil, Gas and Energy Research (COOGER) at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in 2002.   Since its inception, COOGER scientists have played a world-leading role in improving scientific knowledge and co-ordinating and implementing collaborative research efforts devoted to:

  • Strengthening scientific knowledge about the fate and behaviour of petroleum introduced to the marine and coastal environment, and
  • Understanding and improving mitigation measures used to reduce and counter the impacts of oil spills on coastal ecosystems.

Under the leadership of Transport Canada, the Government of Canada is implementing measures to achieve a world-class tanker safety system in Canada. Building on recommendations from the Tanker Safety Expert Panel and other studies, Canada’s World Class Tanker Safety System program builds on scientific studies that will support Canada’s effective response planning. 

COOGER scientists are working collaboratively with researchers from across Canada to learn how oil products behave if spilled into a marine environment in order to ensure effective oil spill responses. For example, preliminary scientific research concluded that diluted bitumen can behave differently than other oils under certain environmental conditions; results are published in the report, “Properties, Composition and Marine Spill Behaviour, Fate and Transport of Two Diluted Bitumen Products from the Canadian Oil Sands.”

A Canada-wide network is currently undertaking scientific research and development on:

  • The pre-treatment of heavy oil products at the source;
  • The behaviour of different formulations of heavy oil products when spilled in marine environments; and,
  • Other potential alternative response measures.

COOGER fosters collaboration at the national and international level and aims to learn from the experiences of other countries to optimize the progress of Canadian research programs. COOGER scientists were invited by the United States Government to provide expertise to their lead agency, the U.S. Coast Guard, and to learn from the oil spill response efforts involving the Deepwater Horizon oil well blow-out in the Gulf of Mexico. COOGER contributed to a plain language report by the American Society for Microbiology published just after that event, “Oil Spills and Microbes”, which addresses frequently asked questions about the role of bacteria and fungi in cleaning up oil spills.

This video provides an overview of COOGER’s research into the fate of oil spilled into various marine environments.  It features former executive director Ken Lee, who is currently leading the Australian Wealth from Oceans National Research Flagship.