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By Fingas M., Charles J.

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Sinking is rare, however, and happens only with a few oils, usually residual oils such as Bunker C. Significant amounts of oil have sunk in only about 25 incidents out of thousands. Another measure of density is specific gravity, which is an oil’s relative density compared with that of water at 15°C. It is the same value as density at the same temperature. Another gravity scale is that of the American Petroleum Institute (API). The API gravity is based on the density of pure water, which has an arbitrarily assigned API gravity value of 10° (10 degrees).

Figure 6 Evaporation rates of different types of oil at 15°C. ©2000 by CRC Press LLC Oil and petroleum products evaporate in a slightly different manner from water and the process is much less dependent on wind speed and surface area. Oil evaporation can be considerably slowed down, however, by the formation of a “crust” or “skin” on top of the oil. This happens primarily on land where the oil layer does not mix with water. The skin or crust is formed when the smaller compounds in the oil are removed.

The ship is just right of centre near the top of the photograph. (Al Allen) commonly known as the Coriolis effect, whereby the earth’s rotation deflects a moving object slightly to the right in the northern hemisphere and to the left in the southern hemisphere. Sinking and Over-Washing If oil is denser than the surface water, it may sometimes actually sink. Some rare types of heavy crudes and Bunker C can reach these densities and sink. When this occurs, the oil may sink to a denser layer of water rather than to the bottom.

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