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  • Uploaded on Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill April 20, 2010. Dr. David Blockstein, Senior Scientist The National Council for the Science and the Environment. Deepwater Horizon offshore oil platform (well). Owned by British Petroleum (BP OIL) Exploded April 20, 2010

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deepwater horizon oil spill april 20 2010

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

April 20, 2010

Dr. David Blockstein, Senior Scientist

The National Council for the Science and the Environment

deepwater horizon offshore oil platform well
Deepwater Horizon offshore oil platform (well)
  • Owned by British Petroleum (BP OIL)
  • Exploded April 20, 2010
  • Sank two days later
  • In 5,000 feet of water

Largest marine oil spill in history

Oil gushed for 86 days into the ocean

gulf of mexico oil disaster april 20 2010
Gulf Of Mexico Oil DisasterApril 20, 2010
  • Deepwater Horizon offshore oil platform (well) had an explosion, then a fire and sank two days later, in 5,000 feet of water
  • 50 miles southeast of Mississippi River delta, in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • 126 workers were rescued, but 11 workers died.
  • Many attempts to stop the gushing of oil into the ocean
  • 86 days after the explosion, the oil was stopped by capping it off.
deepwater horizon oil well
Deepwater Horizon Oil Well

Credit: U.S. Coast Guard

Firefighters combat the fire

Credit: Transocean



What Happened?
  • The sinking of the platform ruptured a pipe (riser) causing crude oil to gush out
  • Oil covered the ocean, the size of South Carolina
  • Oil came ashore in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, killing wildlife in Louisiana
  • Seafood could not be eaten or sold
  • Beaches closed, tourists stayed home, jobs were lost, businesses closed, concerns with health,…
why is there a oil well in the ocean
Why is there a oil well in the ocean?
  • The need for oil and gas is increasing
  • Supplies from war torn countries became more difficult to get and cost more….
  • We looked for sources in the U.S.
  • The Gulf of Mexico has been a major supplier of oil and gas to America for nearly 50 years
  • We have already gotten the oil from easy, near-shore, shallow waters, now-

Energy companies now focused on oil and gas resources in deeper, more difficult waters of 1,000 feet and beyond.

The Gulf of Mexico is peppered with thousands of oil platforms

Map of the northern Gulf of Mexico showing the nearly 4,000 active oil and gas platforms. Credit: NOAA
how was a oil well put in the ocean
How was a oil well put in the ocean?

Remotely controlled robots; 3&4-D seismic info.; 1 billion dollars per deep oil field.

Left to right…….

1.Onshore platform

2. Fixed platform

3. Jackup rig

4. Semi-submersible

5. Drill ship

6. Tension leg platform.

Credit: BOEMRE

An immediate challenge is to gain a better understanding of the deepwater environment and the issues that arise from operating at these depths.

blow out preventer
Blow out preventer

5 stories tall

380 tons

the attempted cleanup
The attempted cleanup……

Aerial application of chemical dispersant to surface oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil platform. Credit: U.S. Coast Guard.

Method to contain……. in the ocean

U.S. Environmental Services' workers moving

OIL CONTAINMENT BOOM onto a supply boat in Venice, La., April 29, 2010.

Credit: Washington Department of Ecology

Early Response -

Dome to capture and recover escaping oil

Oil captured and pumped one mile to oil tanker on surface of water


Stopping the spill: the five-month effort to kill the Macondo well
  • Attempted –
  • Top Kill
  • Junk Shot
  • Move to Collection

All failed or were ineffective


Blow out preventer

five stories, 380 tons

What finally worked?

3 stages -

1. Cap was placed on top of the BOP after a 20 foot pair of shears had cut the riser from the BOP, stopping the oil for the first time. June 3, 2010

2. Relief well was completed at a depth of 17,977 feet. After 2 failed attempts. Sept. 15, 2010

3. Cement was pumped into the well to permanently seal it.

Relief well: a well drilled to intersect an oil or gas well that has undergone a blowout.

Why do we even use oil?
  • Oil is the world’s most important energy source
  • Plays vital role in society around the world
  • Needed for economic growth – industry, agriculture, transportation, heat, cooking, food storage, products, medicine…
  • Equipment, autos, homes, etc., designed to use oil, not other sources
  • Other sources are not yet able to supply enough energy for the world’s needs.
why do you care1
Why do you care?
  • The trip to the mall got more expensive because…….
  • Gas prices went up around the world
  • Food got more expensive
  • Water birds, turtles, marine life killed or harmed
  • Businesses closed,
  • People lost jobs,
  • Beautiful beaches unsafe…
  • Vacations canceled
  • Major food source was harmed

Fish, shrimp, oysters could not be eaten, or sold

Impact from the oil spill

Benefits of the ocean

Provides 50% of the air you breathe

Food source




Biodiversity and future life



Oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill pools against the Louisiana coast along Barataria Bay. Credit: Associated Press
Water filled boom, which broke during Hurricane Alex. Oil collected in pools on Grand Isle Beach, Louisiana.

can help make the USE of petroleum go away……….

Educate yourself on wise energy consumption

Make choices that lessen the use of oil – transportation, idling motor, conservation, efficiency, etc.

Know the difference between good science and “junk science”

Be prepared to vote with an informed opinion on energy choices