BP Oil Spill By: Jake Morris

Basic Info

The BP Oil Spill, which stands for British Petroleum, occurred in April, 2010. This oil spill is known as the worst oil spill in US History, and BP claimed that they lost $61.6 billion from the spill (BP Estimates Cost). On the drilling rig (see picture above), there were 126 people on it. 94 crew members were rescued off the platform, 17 people had to have injuries treated, and 11 people went missing even though the US Coast Guard sent a search party for 3 days (Deepwater Horizon).

82,000 birds or more were estimated to have been killed in the oil spill (Deadly).

What caused the spill

  • The Borehole was not properly sealed—The cement for the drill wasn't air tight (Mullins).
  • Valve Failures—Two valves built to stop the flow of oil and gas, did not work (Mullins).
  • Pressure Test Misinterpreted—The tests told them if the pipe was sealed properly and the crew didn't read it correctly, thinking everything was under control (Mullins).
  • Leak wasn't spotted soon enough—The crew was supposed to find a leak by looking for unexpected increases in pressure in the well, but they didn't look (Mullins).
  • Valve Failure No. 2—The switch for the blowout preventer did not work properly (Mullins).
  • Overwhelmed Separator—The crew decided to pipe the oil to a separator which would separate the oil and mud on the rig which was overwhelmed and was enveloped in flames, instead of safely sending it to land through a series of pipes (Mullins)
  • No Gas Alarm—The gas detection system failed, not alerting the crew in time to take action (Mullins).
  • No Battery for the BOP (Blowout Preventer)—The explosion destroyed the control lines that would allow the crew to close the blowout preventer (BOP), but the BOP has two automatic systems that would close it when it lost contact to the surface. One system had a dead battery, and the other had a defective switch (Mullins).
25,900 marine mammals were estimated to have been killed (Deadly).

Environmental Impact

Out of all the birds, marine mammals, and sea turtles, an estimated total of 113,900 animals have died. That doesn't include fish, plants, and invertebrates. "The widespread pollution from the BP oil spill caused fishing closures across 88,500 square miles," making it nearly impossible to predict how many fish were killed from the spill. Several endangered species lived in the area where the spill occurred including the Atlantic bluefin tuna, Gulf sturgeon, smalltooth sawfish and the dwarf seahorse (Deadly).

6,000 sea turtles were estimated to have died from the Oil Spill (Deadly).


Dispersants are often used to help break down the oil, making it degrade faster. Another technique is to use floating booms to keep the oil from spreading even further. Skimmer boats were then used to clean up the majority of the oil, and then they used sorbents to soak up the rest of the oil. Four years after the spill, it was decided that it was cleaned up enough, and BP funded the state of Louisiana to test the fish, shellfish, water, and sand on a regular basis. (Deepwater)

Military plane is dispersing a chemical called, "Corexit" to help the oil degrade faster (Deepwater).
Created By
Jake Morris

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