BP Oil Spill Not the Worst in History… Yet

According to the CBC:

New oil-flow estimates by scientists studying the blown-out well [in the Gulf of Mexico] determined it has spilled between 64 million and 148 million litres, far more than the 42 million litres that spilled in the Exxon Valdez disaster…

Early estimates said the oil was gushing out of a broken pipe rising from the wellhead at a rate of 800,000 litres a day.

On Thursday, scientists with the Geological Survey said the amount was five times that.

There’s a big difference between 800,000 litres and five times that amount at 4 million litres, but let’s just say there’s 2 million litres of oil gushing into the ocean every day. That’s a little over 20 litres of oil every second. Let’s also take an average of the estimated spillage so far and call it 106 million litres.

If this article is correct, then British Petroleum doesn’t have too long to go to match the worst oil spill in the world. The top 3 so far:

— Kuwait – 1991 – 520 million gallons [1.9 billion litres]
Iraqi forces opened the valves of several oil tankers in order to slow the invasion of American troops. The oil slick was four inches thick and covered 4000 square miles of ocean.
[But this doesn’t count because it was deliberate.]

— Mexico – 1980 – 100 million gallons [378 million litres]
An accident in an oil well caused an explosion which then caused the well to collapse. The well remained open, spilling 30,000 gallons a day into the ocean for a full year.

— Trinidad and Tobago – 1979 – 90 million [340 million litres]
During a tropical storm off the coast of Trinidad and Tobago, a Greek oil tanker collided with another ship, and lost nearly its entire cargo.

If British Petroleum’s “top kill” effort to plug the well (pictured above) doesn’t work — if they have to wait 3 months to drill a safety well to release the pressure from the original well…

4 million litres a day (the worst case estimate) in 90 days = 360 million litres.

Mathematics can be so depressing sometimes.

P.S., You can watch them trying to plug it here.

About Phillip

Phillip Cairns is a beekeeper in St. John's, Newfoundland, who writes about beekeeping at mudsongs.org.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.