Julie Kuchta, President of Onboard Oil Containment Systems (OBOCS), was recently interviewed by Our Daily Planet. Check out their recent digital publication below.
Interview of the Week: Julie Kuchta, President of On Board Oil Containment Systems (OBOCS)
ODP: How did you come up with the idea for your oil spill response technology?
JK: It was actually my partner’s invention. He is a Ship Pilot who navigates the Mississippi River almost every day. He watched with dismay as workers used antiquated methods in an attempt to contain the 2010 BP spill and knew “there had to be a better way.” So, he set off to create what is now OBOCS—On Board Oil Containment Systems.
ODP: Why is this system more technologically advanced than current booms and containment systems?
JK: The key to OBOCS is being mindful of where spills are likely to occur. It is designed to travel with the oil and to be on location when product is being transferred. The faster that spill containment begins, the better it is for the environment and the businesses involved. With OBOCS, there is no need to wait for a shore-based containment boom to arrive – which could take hours depending upon the location of the spill and the land-based resources. It is safer, easier, and faster to deploy directly from the ships, platforms, fuel docks, terminals, and marinas and can often be done without assist vessels, air blowers, or other heavy equipment. It is a win for our water resources and a win for the responsible party if they can use our patented technology to contain the spill and mitigate its effects.
ODP: Why is time such an important factor in an oil spill?
JK: The quicker that containment can take place, the thicker the oil comes together on the surface of the water, and the easier and faster it is to clean. We don’t want the oil to spew and spread as crews await shoreside response because, once the oil reaches the coastline and the habitat, the consequences are far-reaching.
ODP: What is at risk if the responsible company cannot contain the spill right away?
JK: Time is critical in a spill – not only to defending shorelines, protected areas, and wildlife but also to reducing clean up costs and limiting potential fines and penalties. Spills occur all of the time, even if they do not make the headlines. It’s a win-win when the environment suffers less harm and the responsible party is in a position to mitigate the cleanup costs and their reputational harm.
ODP: Is the federal government doing enough or are our coastlines at risk right now given the plan to expand drilling in the ocean?
JK: I believe that many entities have a role to play in protecting our waterways and those who earn their living bringing consumers the oil and petroleum products that we have all come to rely upon. As long as drilling is taking place, there is no reason not to utilize the latest technology and the best practices to mitigate the risks. OBOCS is a marketplace solution to a recurring problem and we hope that both the public and private sectors will see it as an innovative tool that serves environmental and business needs.
ODP: What is it like being a woman CEO in the oil and gas industry? Do you find yourself to be the only woman in the room often? Any advice for other women in the industry?
JK: I often find myself to be the only woman at the table in this industry. However, with the latest emphasis on STEM and organizations like Pink Petro and WISTA, I can see our numbers increasing. I truly believe that women have a lot to bring to the table and I would encourage others to get involved in the oil and gas industry. It’s a fascinating field and we can leave a lasting mark.
Thanks, Julie. We believe that new technology is sorely needed to improve response to oil spills and minimize their environmental impact in the water.