Drum skimmers recover 95 per cent oil

SpillPro on 19 December 2017

Drum skimmers are a versatile equipment to recover spilled oil from the surface of water. Their lightweight construction, high recovery rates and efficiency make them suitable for most oil spill contexts even in water as shallow as 75 mm.

A drum skimmer can recover about 95 per cent oil, with only 5 per cent entrained water. Their grooved surface and oleophilic material give them higher recovery rates than most other skimmer technologies.

They are effective in large spill clean ups and are standard equipment for oil clean up response.

How does a drum skimmer work?

drum skimmer3Drum skimmers are unique in that the drum provides flotation for the device as well as oil removal from the water. They have lightweight aluminium frames and are easy to deploy in spill situations.

The Drum

The primary component of the drum skimmer is the rotating drum. The oleophilic material of the drum attracts oil. Its grooved surface creates a large surface area for oil to stick to the drum as it rotates on the surface of the water. Scrapers remove the oil and direct it into the collection trough.

Power Source

Either hydraulic or pneumatic power sources provide power to a drum skimmer. This power turns the drums on the surface so that oil is continuously removed from the spill area. The turning motion also moves the drum skimmer across the surface to cover a wide spill area.

The power source pumps the collected oil out of the collection trough to an offsite location - either on ship or on shore. As long as the power source is operational, a drum skimmer can work for hours without interruption to the clean-up operation.


SpillPro supplies different models of drum skimmer, the list of available models is as follows:

  • Minimax
  • TDS 118
  • TDS 136
  • Magnum 100
  • Magnum 200

The smallest, Minimax model has a capacity of 5 cubic meters an hour, and the large Magnum 200 having a recovery rate of 90 cubic meters per hour.

How and where drum skimmers are used

drum skimmer4On April 25, 2017, a subsea hose connected to a refinery near Port Moresby harbour sprung a leak. About 2,000 litres of oil escaped into the sea in an incident that drew significant media attention. Specialist spill response crews from Singapore assisted the clean-up operations and drum skimmers formed a key component of the equipment used.

The innovation of grooved drum skimmers and their increased recovery rates has made them indispensable in large oil spill clean ups. They have been successful in the Deepwater Horizon Spill as well as the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The largest drum skimmer in the range from SpillPro has a recovery rate of 180,000 litres per hour. At an efficiency of 95 per cent oil, drum skimmers have the ability to make a quick impact on oil spill recovery.

An incident in Ecuador in 2009 placed large sections of the Santa Rosa River and the surrounding Amazon environment in danger. The second largest oil pipeline in the country burst releasing a large spill into the river. Clean-up crews deployed drum skimmers to maximise the recovery of oil and to limit the damage to the environment. This pipeline supplies 130, 000 barrels of crude oil per day, so high capacity equipment was essential to recover the spilled oil.

Advantages of drum skimmers

  • Drum skimmers are usable in most spill contexts, with the innovation of grooved surfaces on drum skimmers. Grooves assist the drums to recover a wide range of different oils, from light diesels to heavy bunker oils.
  • Drum skimmers are very efficient. They recover 95 per cent oil, with only 5 per cent residual water carried into the collection trough. Any water carried through with the oil recovery wastes energy and capacity. Downstream processes must separate this water from the oil, which add costs to the clean-up. The high efficiency of drum skimmers also reduces the time to clean up a spill.
  • Drum skimmers can operate in a depth of only 75 mm, making them the ideal spill response equipment even in the shallow waters near shore.

Contact SpillPro for more information about drum skimmers

Our trained technical experts can support you to supply and operate drum skimmers as well as train your staff. Find out more about drum skimmers here. You can call our expert team on 1800 368 450 today to discuss the best drum skimmer solution for your business.