Where and how weir skimmers are used

SpillPro on 1 November 2017

Large oil spills often result in massive media coverage. Images of environmental damage and wide-scale pollution are imprinted into our minds. Rivers and oceans, with their sensitive ecologies, are especially at risk because spills can spread quickly and affect large areas. They are also complex environments to work in due to the presence of waves and flowing water.

Immediate action must be taken to contain spills and remove them from the environment as quickly as possible. Weir skimmers are one of the most effective tools at the disposal of cleanup crews for this task.

The power of weir skimmers

deep water horizon support

Weir skimmers have been used in high profile large spills to support cleanup operations and minimise environmental impacts.

Deepwater Horizon

In the Deepwater Horizon incident of 2010, every available boat was deployed to the area of the spill. The Coast Guard commissioned their vessels equipped with weir skimmers to participate in the cleanup operation.


Australia’s third largest oil spill recorded was from the Montara wellhead platform where an estimated 480 tonnes of hydrocarbon were released into the sea. As part of the spill containment and recovery, vessels worked together to place a 300 metre barrier boom to contain the oil. Weir skimmers were placed inside the contained area to suck up the oil.

Weir skimmers as essential response equipment

Large oil companies have chosen Elastic Ocean Skater and Sea Skater skimmers as their spill response equipment of choice. They have purchased supplies of these skimmers to have available in strategic locations where areas are remote but immediate response is critical.

ExxonMobil PNG

ExxonMobil PNG approached SpillPro to supply oil skimmers in Papua New Guinea, where the tropical jungles and terrorist activity make emergency spill response complicated. Now they have the equipment where they need it so that any spill can be responded to quickly and cleaned up effectively.

Read our case study here.


The state oil company of Ecuador made a similar decision to use Elastec oil skimmers at their Esmeraldas facility, the country’s largest and most important refinery. An existing six-year track record of success with Elastec technology created the foundation for this successful implementation.

How do weir skimmers work?

weir circus skimmer support

Weir skimmers have built-in floats that keep the weir assembly floating on the surface of the water. Most weir skimmers have their float frames below the skimmer, but SpillPro weir skimmers are manufactured with the float frame above the skimmer. The configuration and size of the floats increases the water line beam, which gives the equipment a very high responsiveness to water movements.

The weir assembly consists of the weir, bellows and body of the skimmer. SpillPro bellows are made of oil and chemical resistant XR5 fabric, which resists the corrosive effect of solvents that may be present in oil spills. The oil/water mix is sucked from the base of the weir body and pumped to a collection tank on ship or onshore. Suction flow rate is used to control the depth of the weir in the water making the weir skimmer self-adjusting.



SpillPro offers different types of weir skimmers according to the application:

Ocean Skater

The Ocean Skater weir oil skimmer is a high capacity skimmer, able to process up to 300 m3/h of oil/water mix. It is ideal for use in open waters to recover oil from large spills. The compact and collapsible design makes it easy to transport and quick to deploy into a spill zone.

Sea Skater

The Sea Skater weir oil skimmer has a light weight aluminium frame, which is fitted with a circular rigid member to increase strength and impact resistance. The Sea Skater has a capacity of 118 m3/h, and its shallow draft makes it suitable for near shore and shallow water conditions.

Circus River Skimmer

The Circus River Skimmer has a different design to the Ocean and Sea Skater skimmers because it uses the flow of water in a river to capture the oil/water mix from the surface. A circular chamber collects the oil and allows the water to exit from the bottom of the skimmer. The Circus River Skimmer has a capacity of 30 m3/h. is mainly used in calm or slow flowing river conditions.

A boom vane is often used together with the Circus Skimmer to direct the flow of the oil slick into the skimmer. Oil that collects in the chamber is sucked out by external vacuum pumps.

Contact SpillPro for more information about weir skimmers

SpillPro has extensive experience in weir skimmers. Our trained technical experts can support you to supply and operate weir skimmers as well as train your staff. Find out more or call our expert team on 1800 368 450 today to discuss the best weir skimmer solution for your business.