BP Oil Spill – Estimates of barrels per day leaking into the Gulf of Mexico growing at steady pace
As the world follows the story of the BP oil spill, which occurred April 20, people are wondering when the damage will stop. On April 20th, the off shore drilling rig Deepwater Horizon commissioned by BP sank about 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana, two days after an explosion and deadly fire. Eleven crew members have not been found and are presumed dead.
It is reported that BP is trying to keep the actual volume of oil spilling into the sensitive habitat of turtles, dolphins and wild life living in the Gulf of Mexico quiet. Some suspect that the original estimate on April 20 of 1,000 barrels per day, then a few days after to 5,000 barrels per day could be five times that amount now.
There have been almost three organized efforts to stop the huge amount crude oil leaking into the Gulf of Mexico from the ruptured well, but all have failed. The disaster of the Deepwater Horizon poses a new problem that has not been faced before in the off shore drilling circuit; extreme ocean depths.
With the Deepwater Horizon at 5,000 ft below sea level, the water temperatures are extremely cold. Frozen ice crystals have prevented the robot submarines from properly shutting off the rig and working the mechanisms. Other attempts at putting a “top hat” over the leak have failed due to the ice crystals making the containment box too buoyant.
With two remaining leaks, the last effort to drop a 98-ton steel box over the leak to funnel all oil into pipe that would collect on the surface were unsuccessful. Currently the steel box lays on the ocean floor as scientists and BP plan the next move to containing and minimizing the increasingly dangerous spill.
The last spill as catastrophic was the Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989 in Alaska and it is projected
that this BP spill may be more harmful and costly. The Exxon Valdez disaster is estimated to have spilled over 10 million gallons of crude oil onto the habitat of otters, salmon, sea birds and seals. Scientists continue to test the environment and estimate that it may take 30 years for the climate affected by the Exxon Valdez to return to its balance.
On Tuesday the first wildlife casualties were reported; six dolphins washed ashore Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. Researchers are still looking into the deaths but expect they are related to the oil spill. The Gulf of Mexico and it’s neighboring areas are home to 400 species of wild life and plants.
The costly clean up and prevention of harm to wild life have created a “clean up” bill of over $350 million to BP, as of Monday, April 12. In relation to the damage costs and government response to the disaster, Obama has stated, “Let me be clear: BP is responsible for this leak. BP will be paying the bill, but as president of the United States, I’m going to spare no effort to respond to this crisis for as long as it continues. And we will spare no resource to clean up whatever damage is caused.”
With BP bringing in a reported daily profit of $93 million; the company is able to repay an enormous bill for the disaster in just over three days.
The Google Blog released images of Google Earth’s observation of the spill from satellite on May 4, you can download Google Earth and watch the spill activity live.
Photo via ‘marinephotobank’ on Flickr
Photo via ‘USFWS/Southeast’ on Flickr