The BP oil spill at the Deepwater Horizon Oil rig is one of the biggest disasters we have seen for years. As our industry is dependent on the environment, whether it be the sea or the mountains, we wanted to take a closer look at the timeline of events that took place and how it compares to other similar events.
April 20th 2010 saw the start of the disaster when an explosion took place on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, the rig was drilling at the time but not in production. 115 workers were evacuated, though 11 were killed and 17 were injured. 36 hours after the explosion the rig sank.
Within a week the coast guard was reporting an approximate leak of 8,000 barrels a day, equivalent to 300,000 gallons, the slick had also grown to around 590 sq miles. On April the 26th 23,000 ft of containment booms were deployed with a further 70,000ft waiting to go up and 50,000ft on order. The following day robot submarines were sent in to try and stem the leak.
By the 29th April BP estimates the leak to be 5,000 barrels a day, compared to initial estimates of 1,000. There are now 49 vessels working on the clean-up after the US Military join the effort. The oil reaches the Louisiana shoreline on the 30th April, and the BBC report the oil slick to have grown to 4,000 sq miles. By the 1st May there are 1,900 emergency workers and 300 vessels sent to the disaster zone.
On 4th May a BP executive admits the leak could be ten times the expected level, this would equate to 50,000 barrels a day.
14th May a plan to use a mile long pipe to staunch the flow fails. The next day enormous plumes of oil, estimated at 30 miles wide and 300ft thick, were discovered under the surface.
By the 17th May BP announce they are capturing up to 1,000 barrels a day and on the 18th they revise the figure to 2,000 barrels a day.
The 24th May comes with more bad news as the oil slick is now covering 30,000 sq miles and on the 27th May the estimated leak is up to 19,000 barrels a day.
On 4th June BP begin funnelling off the leak, saving 1,000 barrels a day, by the 6th June BP is capturing 10,000 barrels a day - more than half of the leak.
Oil Spill Timeline
We have compiled an visual represtation on the current statics of the oil spill. For a closer view of the details take a look at the oil spill timeline page.
Current estimates of this disaster bring the total oil leakage up to 38 million gallons. This will surely have a huge effect on the environment, though remains a long way from the largest disaster of this type. On the 23rd Jan 1991, during the Gulf War, Iraqi forces opened valves from the Sea Island terminal and dumped several tankers full of oil in the Persian Gulf to prevent the US Military from landing in the gulf. This led to approximately 462 million gallons, covering 4242 sq miles, of oil leaked into the ocean. This should not take away from the fact that the current leak will have a huge impact on the environment, it does however highlight the scale compared to previous disasters.
Written by Stephen Adam, statistics courtesy of the BBC.