The huge volume of hydrocarbons transported through pipelines and by ships poses a continuous risk to the environment due to accidental spills. Understanding the processes determining oil trajectory and fate, and learning oil spill simulation tools, allows environmental professionals to design better response plans, and help with mitigating future events.

This course provides insight into the main processes that govern overland and water oil spills and offers practical training to perform oil spill simulations using the OilFlow2D computational model. The course offers hands-on experience in setting up and running a variety of scenarios including pipeline spills hitting sensitive areas and spills in sea and riverine environments, allowing us to determine where the oil will go, given the spill location and volume.

Learning topics include:

  • Type of hydrocarbons and their characteristics.
  • Crude oil properties databases.
  • Behaviour of hydrocarbons in the environment.
  • Concepts and theories of the process of oil spreading on the surface of the water and land.
  • Influence of the wind, currents and waves in the spreading processes.
  • Formulation to calculate Evaporation, infiltration, emulsification, dissolution, interaction with shore, etc.
  • Effect of oil fate processes on oil viscosity and density.
  • Modelling as a tool to support oil spill preparedness and response activities.
  • OilFlow2d spill simulation model.
  • How to use the oil spill model more effectively to evaluate overland and water spills.
  • How to apply oil spill models for planning and decision-making.
  • How to setup spill scenarios to assess spill response.
  • How use OilFlow2D and Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to assess overland spills using Contingency Plans, and Environmental Risk Assessments.

The course will cover the following topics:

  • Evaporation, emulsification, dispersion and sinking.
  • Change of physical properties such as viscosity and density.
  • Influence of the wind, currents and waves in the spreading processes.
  • Advantages and limitations of modelling.
  • Methods of control of spills.
  • Dispersants.
  • Application of simulation models for the design of contingency plans.
  • Creating oil spill trajectory animations,
  • Use GIS tools to create oil spill location maps.

After completing this course participants will be able to understand the main processes determining the fate and trajectory of oil spills and to apply the OilFlow2D model to assess overland spills and oil spills in rivers and coastal areas.

The course includes the following materials that will be provided:

  • OilFlow2D computer model with a 3-month license.
  • Course Presentations.
  • Videos.
  • Tutorials.
  • Oil property database
  • Comprehensive model documentation.

Course Programme

The course will take place over three days between the hours of 15:00 and 18:30 UK time (BST).

Tuesday 5th April: 15:00-18:30 (BST)

  • Overview of basics of oil spill modeling using OilFlow2D: model overview. Introduction to the OilFlow2D QGIS environment. Layers. Boundary conditions. Spatially distributed roughness coefficients. Input and output files. The basics of an OilFlow2D application workflow. Layer creation. Using elevation raster data. Imposing boundary conditions. Cross-sections, profiles, and observation points. The basics of the Hydronia Data Input Program (DIP).

  • Exercise 1: Creating a simple OilFlow2D application from start to finish.
    • Basic meshing. Using break lines. Refining the mesh along key geographical and terrain features. Considering obstacles. Understanding mesh topology and terrain interpolation.

  • Hands-on exercise 2: Fine points in mesh refinement using OilFlow2D.

Wednesday 6th April: 15:00-18:30 (BST)

  • Digital Elevation Models (DEM). Digital Surface Models (DSM) manipulation. Using multiple DEMs. Basic terrain manipulations. Raster operations. Adapting DEMs based on aerial imagery.

  • Oil spill on land basics. Newtonian and non-Newtonian flows. Equations and Boundary Conditions. Evaporation. Variable density and viscosity. Temperature variation. Assumptions and limitations.

  • Exercise 3: Simulating overland oil spills from a point spill.

  • Exercise 4: Simulating overland oil spills from for multiple-pipeline spills using batch processing.

Thursday 7th April: 15:00-18:30 (BST)

  • Exercise 5: Simulating overland oil spills from a tank break.
    • Oil behavior in the environment. Spreading, evaporation, emulsification, dispersion, dissolution, sedimentation, and interaction with the shore. Effect of oil fate processes and weathering on oil viscosity and density.

    • Oil Spill Modelling in Rivers. Hydrodynamic modeling for riverine oil spill analyses. Boundary conditions. Roughness parameters.

  • Exercise 6: Simulating hydrodynamics in a river as a base for oil spills. Velocity fields. Mapping.


  • There will be coffee-breaks in between presentations and exercises.
  • After each session, participants will have on-demand ad hoc support.

Course Presenter

Dr Reinaldo Garcia
         Dr Reinaldo Garcia

Reinaldo Garcia is a former Research Fellow at the Wessex Institute. He obtained his MSc in Hydraulic Engineering from the Ecole Polytechnique Montreal, Canada and his PhD from the University of Central Venezuela. He is a consultant for the World Bank and the Interamerican Development Bank. Dr Garcia is the creator and leader of the development team of the OilFlow2D and RiverFlow2D flexible mesh models. He has more than 38 years of experience in developing and applying models to simulate oil spills, river flow, and hazard assessments. Dr Garcia has worked in hundreds of modelling projects in the USA, and in over 20 other countries in Europe, Asia, and South America, and is considered an international expert in the field.

Dr Garcia has taught more than 50 international courses on environmental modelling worldwide. He lectured at the University of Miami, Florida from 2004 to 2006. In 2006 he was appointed Senior Research Scientist at the Applied Research Centre of Florida International University (FIU). Presently Dr Garcia shares his research activities at the Florida International University Institute of Water and Environment with his model development and consulting at Hydronia USA and Hydronia Europe, private firms that commercialize OilFlow2D and other computer models.

Course Requirements

The course does not require previous modelling experience.

This is a hands-on course. To take advantage of the practical sessions it is advisable that participants have the use of a computer with the following minimum specifications.

  • Windows 10 operating system
  • 4 GB RAM
  • Administrative privileges to install the software.
  • 1280x1024 or higher screen resolution recommended
  • Mouse (recommended)