20 April 2010 – Largest Marine Oil Spill in the History of Petroleum Industry

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BP was the leader of the project to drill the Macondo well, using the Deepwater Horizon rig which was operated by Transocean. Image: Financial Times.

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill (also referred to as the “BP oil spill”) was an industrial disaster that began on 20 April 2010, in the Gulf of Mexico on the BP-operated Macondo Prospect, considered to be the largest marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry.

A cleanup worker absorbed spilled oil in Plaquemines Parish, La., in 2010.Credit…Gerald Herbert/Associated Press.

The Transocean BP Deepwater Horizon semi-submersible offshore oil drilling rig exploded, resulting in a fire that engulfed the platform, killing 11 workers and injuring 17 others.

The platform is located 40 miles southeast of the Louisiana coast in the Gulf of Mexico.

Post disaster reports stated that on the night of April 20th a surge of natural gas blasted through a concrete core recently installed by contractor Halliburton in order to seal the well for later use.

“Once released by the fracture of the core, the natural gas traveled up the Deepwater rig’s riser to the platform, where it ignited..”

“The rig eventually capsized and sank on the morning of April 22nd, rupturing the riser, through which drilling mud had been injected in order to counteract the upward pressure of oil and natural gas..

“Without any opposing force, oil began to discharge into the gulf”.

The volume of oil escaping the well was astronomical. Originally estimated by BP to be about 1,000 barrels per day, however it was thought by U.S. government officials to have peaked at more than 60,000 barrels per day.

After several failed attempts to contain the flow, the gusher was eventually capped on 19 September 2010, but reports in early 2012 indicated that the well site was still leaking.

More than 210 million gallons (780,000 m³) of crude oil had been released into the environment, causing an environmental disaster including extensive damage to marine and wildlife habitats as well as the Gulf’s fishing and tourism industries.

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill is regarded as one of the largest environmental disasters in American history.

In 2015 BP had reached a $18.7 billion dollar settlement to end five years of litigation. The US Department of Justice said at the time it was the largest settlement with a single entity in U.S. history.

BP was the leader of the project to drill the Macondo well, using the Deepwater Horizon rig which was operated by Transocean. Image: Financial Times.