Lakshmi Kothuri

GULF OF MEXICO OIL SPILL

INTRODUCTION
An oil spill is a release of a liquid petroleum hydrocarbon into the environment due to human activity, and is a form of pollution. The term often refers to marine oil spills, where oil is released into the ocean or coastal waters. Oil spills include releases of crude oil from tankers, offshore platforms, drilling rigs and wells, as well as spills of refined petroleum products (such as gasoline, diesel) and their by-products, and heavier fuels used by large ships such as bunker fuel, or the spill of any oily refuse or waste oil. Spills may take months or even years to clean up

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill (also known as the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill or the BP Oil Spill) is the largest marine oil spill in history, and was caused by an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil platform about 50 miles southeast of the Mississippi River delta on April 20, 2010 (28.74°N, 88.39°W). Most of the 126 workers on the platform were safely evacuated, and a search and rescue operation began for 11 missing workers. The Deepwater Horizon sank in about 5,000 feet (1,500 m) of water on April 22, 2010. On April 23 the U.S. Coast Guard suspended the search for missing workers who are all presumed dead. After a series of failed efforts to plug the leak, BP said on July 15 that it had capped the well, stopping the flow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico for the first time in 86 days.

SPILL AREA AND THICKNESS
The oil's spread was initially increased by strong southerly winds caused by an impending cold front. By April 25, the oil spill covered 580 square miles (1,500 km2) and was

the Automated Data Inquiry for Oil Spills model indicated that about 35% of a hypothetical 114. that 50% to 60% of the oil would remain in or on the water. east coast. The omission is noted prominently on the ongoing near shore surface oil forecasts that are posted daily on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration site. An April 30 estimate placed the total spread of the oil at 3. Some scientists believe the rapid dissipation of the surface oil may have been due to a combination of factors that included the natural capacity of the region to break down oil (petroleum normally leaks from the ocean floor by way of thousands of natural seeps and certain bacteria are able to consume it. Ed Overton says he thinks most of the oil is floating within 1 foot (30 cm) of the surface The New York Times is tracking the size of the spill over time using data from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. On May 14.Lakshmi Kothuri only 31 miles (50 km) from the ecologically sensitive Chandeleur Islands. On May 19 both the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other scientists monitoring the spill with the European Space Agency Envisat radar satellite stated that oil had reached the Loop Current.S.000 barrels (18. and the rest would be dispersed in the ocean.). The spill quickly approached the Delta National Wildlife Refuge and Breton National Wildlife Refuge. and the .000 km2). the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration determined that the oil slick was no longer a threat to the loop current and stopped tracking offshore oil predictions that include the loop currents region. On June 29.100 m3) spill of light Louisiana crude oil released in conditions similar to those found in the Gulf would evaporate.850 square miles (10. In the same report. which flows clockwise around the Gulf of Mexico towards Florida and then joins the Gulf Stream along the U. the US Coast Guard and Sky truth. The wellhead was capped on July 15 and by July 30 the oil appeared to have dissipated more rapidly than expected. winds from storms appeared to have aided in rapidly dispersing the oil.

Some scientists are calling the NOAA estimates "ludicrous. The Georgia team said 'it is a misinterpretation of data to claim that oil that is dissolved is actually gone'. said the report that 75% of the oil is gone is "just not true" and that 50% to 75% of the material that came out of the well remains in the water in a "dissolved or dispersed form". skimming. John Kessler of Texas A&M. FSU oceanography professor Ian MacDonald called it "a shaky report" and is unsatisfied with the thoroughness of the presentation and "sweeping assumptions" involved. said. As much as 40% of the oil may have simply evaporated at the ocean surface. University of Georgia scientists said their analysis of federal estimates shows that 80% of that BP oil the government said was gone from the Gulf of Mexico is still there. . and an unknown amount remains below the surface. 75% is still unaccounted for. there are still 50 to 60 million gallons that are still out there." Scientists said a lot of oil was still underwater and could not be detected. The other numbers are "educated scientific guesses. while 25% of the oil can be accounted for by burning. director of Texas Tech University's Institute of Environmental and Human Health. many scientists dispute the report's methodology and figures. Ronald Kendall." According to University of South Florida chemical oceanographer David Hollander. or 103 million gallons ± the equivalent of nine Exxon Valdez disasters ± remains on or below the Gulf¶s surface. etc.Lakshmi Kothuri clean-up response by BP and the government helped control surface slicks. about half of the oil leaked into the Gulf. I'd like to say that even if it's true. According to the NOAA report released on August 4. The federal calculations are based on direct measurements for only 18 million gallons of the oil spilled ² the stuff burned and skimmed." said Bill Lehr. who led a National Science Foundation on-site study of the spill. "I'm suspect if that's accurate or not. because "it is impossible to measure oil that is dispersed". However.. On August 16. an author of the NOAA report.

" she says. from USF. researchers at the University of South Florida reported finding oil on the seafloor in the form of oil particles sprinkled on top of the mud. These new findings strongly suggest that it 'didn't just drizzle oil. David Hollander. taking with it oil droplets that stick to the mucous. Samantha Joye. EFFORTS TO STEM THE FLOW OF OIL SHORT-TERM EFFORTS The first attempts to stop the oil spill were to use remotely operated underwater vehicles to close the blowout preventer valves on the well head. "But the sheer coverage here is leading us all to come to the conclusion that it has to be sedimented oil from the oil spill. She describes seeing layers of oily material covering the bottom of the seafloor. all these attempts failed. On September 10. however. She speculates that the source may be organisms that have broken down the spilled oil and excreted an oily mucus that sinks. "We have to [chemically] fingerprint the oil and link it to the Deepwater Horizon. on a research vessel in the Gulf of Mexico announced her team's findings of a substantial layer of oily sediment stretching for dozens of miles in all directions suggesting that a lot of oil did not evaporate or dissipate but may have settled to the seafloor. in some places it was a blizzard'. in some places more than 2 inches thick atop normal sediments containing dead shrimp and other organisms. how much evaporated and how much might have stayed under the waves. says the government's original attempt to figure out what happened to the oil failed to consider that it could end up on the seafloor.Lakshmi Kothuri OIL ON SEAFLOOR In August. The . and only counted how much washed ashore. because it's all over the place.

Each tanker has capacity of 750.000 US gallons (22. The collected gas was flared and oil stored on the board of drillship Discoverer Enterprise. To increase the processing capacity. By June 3.000 US gallons.000 cubic metres). placing a 125-tonne (280.000 barrels (32. 924. a second containment system connected directly to the blowout preventer became operational carrying oil and gas to the Q4000 service vessel where it was burned in a clean-burning system. the drillship Discoverer Clear Leader and the floating production." However. storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel Helix Producer 1 were added. FPSO Seillean. BP removed the damaged riser from the top of the blowout preventer and covered the pipe by the cap which connected it to a riser. On June 16. 119. CEO of BP Tony Hayward stated that as a result of this process the amount captured was "probably the vast majority of the oil.000 barrels) of oil were collected before removal of the tube.000 lb) containment dome (which had worked on leaks in shallower water) over the largest leak and piping the oil to a storage vessel on the surface. the FRTG member Ira Leifer said that more oil was escaping than before the riser was cut and the cap containment system was placed. offloading oil with tankers Evi Knutsen. failed when gas leaking from the pipe combined with cold water formed methane hydrate crystals that blocked the opening at the top of the dome. More successful was the process of positioning a riser insertion tube into the wide burst pipe. . Attempts to close the well by pumping heavy drilling fluids into the blowout preventer to restrict the flow of oil before sealing it permanently with cement ("top kill") also failed. They are offloaded by shuttle tanker Loch Rannoch. and Juanita. There was a stopper-like washer around the tube that plugs the end of the riser and diverts the flow into the insertion tube. In addition.000. and well testing vessel Toisa Pisces would process oil.Lakshmi Kothuri second technique.

the containment cap was removed to replace it with a better-fitting cap consisting of a Flange Transition Spool and a 3 Ram Stack ("Top Hat Number 10"). On July 15 BP tested the well integrity by shutting off pipes that were funneling some of the oil to ships on the surface.000 feet) beneath the waves where oil is leaking out of the damaged remnants of the oil well apparatus.524m (5. Oil spill in Gulf of Mexico in maps and graphics The graphic above shows the scene 1. so the full force of the gusher from the wellhead went up into the cap. . BP said that the leak had been stopped after all the blowout preventer valves had been closed on the newly-fitted cap. and the flaring off of 57.1 million cubic feet (1. On July 10. The government's estimates suggested the cap and other equipment were capturing less than half of the oil leaking from the sea floor as of late June.62×106 m3) of natural gas.000 barrels of oil. BP announced that its one-day oil recovery effort accounted for about 25.000 barrels. That same day. The total oil collection to date for the spill was estimated at 660.Lakshmi Kothuri On July 5.

The U. On September 4 at 6:54 p.000 feet (5. The bottom kill had yet to take place.260 m) out of 18.m. government wants the failed blowout preventer to be replaced in case of any pressure that occurs when the relief well intersects with the well. first test oil and then drilling mud was pumped at a slow rate of approximately two barrels/minute into the well-head.500 m) as of June 14 while BP engineers verified the operational status of the second relief well's blowout preventer. CDT the failed blowout preventer reached the surface of the water and at 9:16 p. CDT the 300 ton failed blowout preventer was removed from the well and began being slowly lifted to the surface. Allen said it was uncertain when the well could be declared completely sealed.978 feet (4. On August 19. Later that day a replacement blowout preventer was placed on the well.614 m) out of 18. though. at the end of which time the well was declared to be "in a static condition. On August 4. Each relief well is expected to cost about $100 million.576 feet (2. Pumping continued for eight hours.Two weeks later. Even when the relief well was ready. Starting at 15:00 CDT on August 3. Allen said the static kill was working.m.Lakshmi Kothuri PERMANENT CLOSURE Transocean's Development Driller III started drilling a first relief well on May 2 and was at 13. and the relief well had been delayed by storms. sealing that part of the flow channel permanently. CDT it was placed in a .S.500 m) as of June 14. with Adm. he said.000 feet (5. GSF Development Driller II started drilling a second relief on May 16 and was halted at 8." At 09:15 CDT on August 4. BP had to make sure pressure would not build up again.m. BP began pumping cement from the top. Allen's approval. On September 3 at 1:20 p. Allen said that some scientists believe it is possible that a collapse of rock formations has kept the oil from continuing to flow and that the well might not be permanently sealed.

Thad Allen said. It tested how much environmental damage a small. BP's well was "effectively dead." Allen said a pressure test to ensure the cement plug would hold was completed at 5:54 a.Lakshmi Kothuri special container on board the vessel Helix Q4000.m. He added. and crews started pumping in cement on Friday September 17 to permanently plug it. CDT. the relief well reached its destination and pumping of cement to seal the well began. controlled burn of 100 barrels did to surrounding wetlands. BP stated that more than 215. filtering off-shore. but could not proceed with an open ocean burn due to poor conditions. the US Coast Guard announced plans to corral and burn off up to 1000 barrels of oil each day. The relief well being drilled intersected the blown-out well Thursday September 16. On April 28. REMOVAL OF OIL Three basic approaches to removing the oil from the water have been burning the oil. Retired Coast Guard Adm. On September 10. BP ordered 32 machines that separate oil and water with each machine capable of extracting up to 2000 .000 barrels of oil-water mix had been recovered by May 25. 2010. On September 19. In mid June. and finishing the boring would take four more days. Allen said the bottom kill could start sooner than expected because a "locking sleeve" could be used on top of the well to prevent excessive pressure from causing problems. The failed blowout preventer will be taken to a NASA facility in Louisiana for examination. BP said the relief well was about 50 feet from the intersection. "Additional regulatory steps will be undertaken but we can now state definitively that the Macondo Well poses no continuing threat to the Gulf of Mexico". BP effectively killed the Macondo Well five months after the April 20th explosion. and collecting for later processing. On September 16.

S. "naturally dispersed" was mostly at the wellhead. This proved untrue and many foreign assets deployed to aid in cleanup efforts. a spokesman for shipowner TMT. there is plus/minus 10% uncertainty in the total volume of the oil spill. with 5 million gallons of that consisting of oil. director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy.000 barrels had been recovered or flared. By June 28. Two months after these numbers were released Carol Browner. An estimated 11 million gallons of oil were burned. An urban myth developed that the U. and oil washed ashore or buried in sediment). According to Bob Grantham.Lakshmi Kothuri barrels per day. this was due to BP's use of chemical dispersants. said they were ³never meant to be a precise tool" and that the data "was simply not designed to explain. BP said 826. However. government declined the offers because of the requirements of the Jones Act. or capable of explaining. The table below presents the NOAA estimates based on an estimated release of 4. floating tarballs. The Coast Guard said 33 million gallons of tainted water had been recovered. "residual" is the oil remaining as surface sheen.9 million barrels of oil (the category "chemically dispersed" includes dispersal at the surface and at the wellhead.000 barrels of oily liquid and burned about 314. was tested in early July but failed to collect a significant amount of oil. BP agreed to use the technology after testing machines for one week. Many large-scale skimmers were therefore unable to be used in the cleanup because they exceed this limit. recently retrofitted as a skimmer. the fate of . BP had successfully removed 890. The Taiwanese supertanker A Whale.000 barrels of oil The Environmental Protection Agency prohibited the use of skimmers that left more than 15 parts per million of oil in the water. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) estimated that about 25% of the oil had been removed from the Gulf.

oil that the budget classified as dispersed. using an Oil Budget Calculator (OBC) developed for this spill.1m barrels. according to Christopher Haney. Ian MacDonald. Haney said. noting that 800. a senior scientist at NOAA's Office of Response and Restoration. Whether buried under beaches or settling on the ocean floor. Lehr said 6% was burned and 4% was skimmed but he could not be confident of numbers for the amount collected from beaches... A formally peer reviewed report documenting the OBC is scheduled for release in early October. This report relied on numbers generated by government and non-government oil spill experts. Under questioning from congressman Ed Markey. defended a report written by the National Incident Command (NIC) on the fate of the oil. "Terms such as 'dispersed. NOAA has been criticized by some independent scientists and Congress for the report's conclusions and for failing to explain how the scientists arrived at the calculations detailed in the table above. an ocean .000 barrels were siphoned off directly from the well. That's comparable to saying the sugar dissolved in my coffee is no longer there because I can't see it." Appearing before Congress. Lehr agreed that the report said the amount of oil that went into the Gulf was 4. "You shouldn't have released it until you knew it was right.' 'dissolved' and 'residual' do not mean gone.Lakshmi Kothuri the oil. Based upon the OBC. As seen in the table above. the oil which is out of sight is not benign. up to 75 percent of the oil from BP's Gulf oil disaster still remains in the Gulf environment." he said. who called the government report's conclusions misleading. Bill Lehr. chief scientist for Defenders of Wildlife. or evaporated is not necessarily gone". By Director Lubchenco's own acknowledgment. he pointed out that much of the oil has evaporated or been dispersed or dissolved into the water column. Markey told Lehr the NIC report had given the public a false sense of confidence. residues from the spill will remain toxic for decades. dissolved. Based on these estimates.

research showed these microbes mainly digested natural gas spewing from the wellhead . which do not appear to be biodegrading very fast.propane. "The imprint will be there in the Gulf of Mexico for the rest of my life. under the surface. "I believe this report is misleading. sometimes even decades. one the size of Manhattan." By late July 2010. a professor of microbial geochemistry . David L." he said. OIL EATING MICROBES In August a study of bacterial activity in the Gulf led by Terry Hazen of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. In August.Lakshmi Kothuri scientist at Florida State University. found a previously unknown bacterial species and reported in the journal Science that it was able to break down the oil without depleting oxygen levels. according to a subsequent study published in the journal Science. By mid-September. a chemical oceanographer at Texas A&M University says ³what Hazen was measuring was a component of the entire hydrocarbon matrix. Valentine.´ which is a complex mix of literally thousands of different molecules. two weeks after the flow of oil had stopped oil on the surface of the Gulf had largely dissipated. ³there are others that have much longer half-lives ² on the order of years. Hazen¶s interpretation had its skeptics. Although the few molecules described in the new paper in Science may well have degraded within weeks.´ He noted that the missing oil has been found in the form of large oil plumes. John Kessler. It is not gone and it will not go away quickly. Concern still remains for underwater oil and ecological damage. scientists had determined as much as 79 percent of the oil remains in the Gulf of Mexico. Kessler says.rather than oil. ethane and butane . claims the NIC report "was not science". He accused the White House of making "sweeping and largely unsupported" claims that three-quarters of the oil in the Gulf was gone.

Government has . On July 15.900 m3/d) and decreasing as the reservoir of hydrocarbons feeding the gusher was gradually depleted. 2010 Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion. or 185 million gallons of crude oil. anchored barriers. The spill has caused extensive damage to marine and wildlife habitats as well as the Gulf's fishing and tourism industries. CONCLUSION It is the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. said that the oil-gobbling properties of the microbes had been grossly overstated. wetlands and estuaries from the spreading oil. floating containment booms. The spill stemmed from a sea-floor oil gusher that resulted from the April 20. the leak was stopped by capping the gushing wellhead after releasing about 4. Scientists have also reported immense underwater plumes of dissolved oil not visible at the surface. might be responsible for an outbreak of mysterious skin rashes noted by Gulf physicians. some of which have been genetically modified. starting at about 62.Skimmer ships. The U. or otherwise bio-engineered to better eat the oil.9 million barrels (780×103 m3).000 barrels per day (8.S. On September 19.400 m3/d) were escaping from the well just before it was capped. and sand-filled barricades along shorelines were used in an attempt to protect hundreds of miles of beaches. It is believed that the daily flow rate diminished over time.000 barrels per day (9. the relief well process was successfully completed and the federal government declared the well "effectively dead". It was estimated that 53. Marine toxicologist Riki Ott says that the bacteria. Some experts have suggested that the proliferation of the bacteria may be causing health issues for residents of the Gulf Coast.Lakshmi Kothuri at UC Santa Barbara.

Retrieved 2010-07-03. . Mohr (2010-07-27). Michael (2010-06-23). Stephen. Whitehouse.html". Retrieved 2010-05-08. 14. "Staffing Levels on Deepwater Horizon Are Questioned". Retrieved 2010-05-13. 3. 2010 (2010-06-23).com. Latimesblogs. Power.gov. "Gulf oil spill: Boat captain. 8. 3:11 am ET.: BP had contracted the rig from Transocean. 5. which both owned and operated the rig. SkyTruth. June 23. Bosses who earn millions claimed they could handle rig explosions". Mon Jul 26.com. Retrieved 2010-06-08. Retrieved 2010-08-02. Holbrook. (2010-06-08). commits suicide | Greenspace | Los Angeles Times".Yahoo! News". The Wall Street Journal(Dow Jones & Company).yahoo. Daily Mirror: p. REFERENCES 1. Retrieved 2010-07-14.latimes. Whitney. 2010-05-05. King. Two Workers Dead in BP Oil Disaster Recovery Effort FireDogLake. Neil Jr. Associated Press. Burdeau. despondent over spill. Gold. Russell. "The Ongoing Administration-Wide Response to the Deepwater BP Oil Spill". News.Lakshmi Kothuri named BP as the responsible party. 7. and officials have committed to holding the company accountable for all cleanup costs and other damage. "BP 'still to decide' on Hayward in wake of oil spill . "BP's oil slickers.com. 2. Cain. Retrieved 2010-05-13. 4. Big Oil Plans Rapid Response to Future Spills 6. White (2010-05-03). "Expert: bp-gulf-oil-spill-68000-squaremiles-of.

Guegel. Retrieved 2010-0715. in Gulf.P. 15. Clifford (2010-08-02). The New York Times (The New York Times Company).acs.html 16. 11. 13. Robertson. William. WWL-TV. "BP 'army' battles Macondo flow". 14.org/cen/news/88/i39/8839notw7. Wright.USA Today. Retrieved 2010-09-19. Retrieved 2010-05-21. "Blown Out BP Well Finally Killed". A. Chris (2010-05-25). "Gulf Spill Is the Largest of Its Kind. "BP begins pressure test on well cap". Welch. (2010-05-10). Brenner. Wire services. 2010-07-15. 2010-08-03. http://pubs. 10. Retrieved 2010-08-12. USA Today. . 12. London: Telegraph. pledges to push on stopping leak".. Krauss. N. Joyner. Yahoo! 7 News. Scientists Say". Retrieved 2010-05-27.. A.Lakshmi Kothuri 9. Retrieved 2010-05-26. "Memorial Services Honors 11 Dead Oil Rig Workers". "Obama. Campbell. Staff (2010-05-27). Upstream Online (NHST Media Group). 2010-09-19. "BP leak the world's worst accidental oil spill".B. Retrieved 2010-08-15.

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