Research facilitation and management for Newfoundland and Labrador's offshore industry

Stability and Drift of Icebergs Under Tow

Lead PI: Mr. Freeman Ralph
Subject Category: Arctic and Harsh Environments

Start Date: Jan 2003
End Date: Dec 2004
Institution / Organization: Memorial University

Icebergs pose a unique risk to petroleum production platforms in the waters of Atlantic Canada. These risks are among the most important considerations for facility selection for oil and gas field development. Current ice management tactics rely heavily on iceberg towing using offshore supply vessels and the requirement for towing will be even greater as development moves into deeper water where icebergs occur more frequently. 

Knowledge of an iceberg’s stability characteristics is very important when attempting to perform towing operations.  Without this knowledge, improper tow force, speed and angle can all have a detrimental effect on the safe and efficient removal of an iceberg.

C-CORE received PRAC funding to research the relationship between iceberg stability and towing parameters such as tow force, point of application, acceleration and tow speed.  The project also focused on whether tow strategy can be optimized using a model that integrates the forces from the sail and the keel of the iceberg.  The end result is a set of practical guidelines to improve the effectiveness of iceberg towing operations, which may pave the way for the use of physically-based models in iceberg management.


  • C-CORE (2004). Stability and Drift of Icebergs Under Tow – Draft Report. Prepared for Petroleum Research NL (PRNL). C-CORE Report R-04-072-216 v1. January 2005. [PDF]
  • 1st Annual Atlantic Petroleum R&D Forum Presentation, 8th May 2007 [PDF]

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