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Ocean Visuals real-time detection of oil and organics in the sea

Ocean Visuals’ unique OWL™ LiDAR sensor system gathers data from the air, from the water surface, and from below the surface using photonics sensors to provide real-time detection and classification of oil and organics in the sea.

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Tremendous strides have been made in preventing oil spills. Yet in 2017, approximately 7 000 metric tons of oil was lost to the environment from tank vessels alone.

Oil typically submerges in water two to four hours after an oil spill occurs. This makes it hard to detect the oil for clean up.

Morever, traditional radar and camera technologies cannot be used for subsea detection because they are not capable of “seeing” below the water surface.

Innovative laser-based system

With the help of the SEA OWL™ laser-based sensor system, Ocean Visuals can detect and classify in real-time the type of oil (crude oil, hydraulic oil, bunker oil, etc.) in the water, without the need for samples or lab analysis.

The system is very accurate because it uses Hyperspectral Laser Induced Fluorescence (HLIF)-based Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR). The LiDAR detects oil by sensing direct light response induced by a laser beam hitting oil molecules in the water, thereby preventing false alarms.

The system can detect submerged oil down to depths of three metres and measure the thickness of oil on water. Moreover, it can measure sensitivity in parts per million (ppm), making it suitable for post-cleaning control in an oil spill area.

Concrete benefits

The SEA OWL™ system provides valuable data on real-time levels of hydrocarbon and organic matter in the sea and offers real-time oil classification capabilities.

The system enables the collection of information that was previously unavailable due to lack of daylight or submerged oil. This helps to provide a complete and accurate picture in oil spill situations.

Market potential

There is a growing global demand for detailed and accurate environmental data. Such data can be used in the effort to tackle climate change and for better decision-making, for example in crisis situations.

The SEA OWL™ system generates this type of sought-after data.

Ocean Visuals’ target markets are oil companies, environmental agencies, aquaculture companies, government monitoring agencies and scientific research institutions.

The SEA OWL™ system is also particularly well suited for use by oil companies and other stakeholders in the Arctic, as it can detect oil between ice floes and in ice slush as well as camouflaged oil. In Norway, the system has already been implemented on board cruise ships, seismic vessels and icebreakers.

Clean water and sanitation

6. Clean water and sanitation

About the goal

Ocean Visuals can aid ocean clean-up through accurate detection of oil and organics in the water following an oil spill.

Life below water

14. Life below water

About the goal

Apart from oil detection and classification, Ocean Visuals’ sensors also measure water transparency, an indicator of particulate matter in the water. The real-time data gathered may potentially be used for other applications, such as marine environmental monitoring, ocean modelling and detection of other substances, objects and organisms on the water surface and in the water column.

Contact company



c/o Bjørnar Huse, Heimdal 25, 6012 ÅLESUND, Norway

Christian Testman


+47 951 13 395

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