Oil spill

An oil spill is the release of a liquid petroleum hydrocarbon into the environment, especially the marine ecosystem, due to human activity, and is a form of pollution. The term is usually given to marine oil spills, where oil is released into the ocean or coastal waters, but spills may also occur on land. Oil spills may be due to releases of crude oil from tankers, offshore platforms, drilling rigs and wells, as well as spills of refined petroleum products (such as gasoline, diesel) and their by-products, heavier fuels used by large ships such as bunker fuel, or the spill of any oily refuse or waste oil.

Oil spills penetrate into the structure of the plumage of birds and the fur of mammals, reducing its insulating ability, and making them more vulnerable to temperature fluctuations and much less buoyant in the water. Cleanup and recovery from an oil spill is difficult and depends upon many factors, including the type of oil spilled, the temperature of the water (affecting evaporation and biodegradation), and the types of shorelines and beaches involved.[1] Spills may take weeks, months or even years to clean up.[2]

Oil spills can have disastrous consequences for society; economically, environmentally, and socially. As a result, oil spill accidents have initiated intense media attention and political uproar, bringing many together in a political struggle concerning government response to oil spills and what actions can best prevent them from happening.[3]

Kelp after an oil spill
Oil Slick in the Timor Sea September-2009
Oil slick from the Montara oil spill in the Timor Sea, September 2009

Largest oil spills

Crude oil and refined fuel spills from tanker ship accidents have damaged vulnerable ecosystems in Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico, the Galapagos Islands, France, the Sundarbans, Ogoniland, and many other places. The quantity of oil spilled during accidents has ranged from a few hundred tons to several hundred thousand tons (e.g., Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, Atlantic Empress, Amoco Cadiz),[4] but volume is a limited measure of damage or impact. Smaller spills have already proven to have a great impact on ecosystems, such as the Exxon Valdez oil spill because of the remoteness of the site or the difficulty of an emergency environmental response.

Since 2004, between 300 and 700 barrels of oil per day have been leaking from the site of an oil-production platform 12 miles off the Louisiana coast which sank in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan. The oil spill, which officials estimate could continue throughout the 21st century, will eventually overtake the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizion disaster as the largest ever, but there are currently no efforts to cap the many leaking well heads.[5]

Oil spills at sea are generally much more damaging than those on land, since they can spread for hundreds of nautical miles in a thin oil slick which can cover beaches with a thin coating of oil. These can kill seabirds, mammals, shellfish and other organisms they coat. Oil spills on land are more readily containable if a makeshift earth dam can be rapidly bulldozed around the spill site before most of the oil escapes, and land animals can avoid the oil more easily.

Largest oil spills
Spill / Tanker Location Date Tonnes of crude oil
US Gallons
Kuwaiti Oil Fires[b] Kuwait January 16, 1991November 6, 1991 136,000 1,000,000 42,000,000 [6][7]
Kuwaiti Oil Lakes [c] Kuwait January 1991November 1991 3,409–6,818 25,000–50,000 1,050,000–2,100,000 [8][9][10]
Lakeview Gusher Kern County, California, USA March 14, 1910September 1911 1,200 9,000 378,000 [11]
Gulf War oil spill [d] Kuwait, Iraq, and the Persian Gulf January 19, 1991January 28, 1991 818–1,091 6,000–8,000 252,000–336,000 [9][13][14]
Deepwater Horizon United States, Gulf of Mexico April 20, 2010July 15, 2010 560–585 4,100–4,900 172,000–180,800 [15][16][17][18][19]
Ixtoc I Mexico, Gulf of Mexico June 3, 1979March 23, 1980 454–480 3,329–3,520 139,818–147,840 [20][21][22]
Atlantic Empress / Aegean Captain Trinidad and Tobago July 19, 1979 287 2,105 88,396 [23][24][25]
Fergana Valley Uzbekistan March 2, 1992 285 2,090 87,780 [26]
Nowruz Field Platform Iran, Persian Gulf February 4, 1983 260 1,900 80,000 [27]
ABT Summer Angola, 700 nmi (1,300 km; 810 mi) offshore May 28, 1991 260 1,907 80,080 [23]
Castillo de Bellver South Africa, Saldanha Bay August 6, 1983 252 1,848 77,616 [23]
Amoco Cadiz France, Brittany March 16, 1978 223 1,635 68,684 [23][26][26][28][29]
Taylor Energy United States, Gulf of Mexico September 23, 2004 – Present 210–490 1,500–3,500 63,000–147,000 [30]
  1. ^ One metric ton (tonne) of crude oil is roughly equal to 308 US gallons or 7.33 barrels approx.; 1 oil barrel (bbl) is equal to 35 imperial or 42 US gallons. Approximate conversion factors. Archived 2014-06-21 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Estimates for the amount of oil burned in the Kuwaiti Oil Fires range from 500,000,000 barrels (79,000,000 m3) to nearly 2,000,000,000 barrels (320,000,000 m3). Between 605 and 732 wells were set ablaze, while many others were severely damaged and gushed uncontrolled for several months. It took over ten months to bring all of the wells under control. The fires alone were estimated to consume approximately 6,000,000 barrels (950,000 m3) of oil per day at their peak.
  3. ^ Oil spilled from sabotaged fields in Kuwait during the 1991 Persian Gulf War pooled in approximately 300 oil lakes, estimated by the Kuwaiti Oil Minister to contain approximately 25,000,000 to 50,000,000 barrels (7,900,000 m3) of oil. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, this figure does not include the amount of oil absorbed by the ground, forming a layer of "tarcrete" over approximately five percent of the surface of Kuwait, fifty times the area occupied by the oil lakes.[8]
  4. ^ Estimates for the Gulf War oil spill range from 4,000,000 to 11,000,000 barrels (1,700,000 m3). The figure of 6,000,000 to 8,000,000 barrels (1,300,000 m3) is the range adopted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the United Nations in the immediate aftermath of the war, 1991–1993, and is still current, as cited by NOAA and The New York Times in 2010.[12] This amount only includes oil discharged directly into the Persian Gulf by the retreating Iraqi forces from January 19 to 28, 1991. However, according to the U.N. report, oil from other sources not included in the official estimates continued to pour into the Persian Gulf through June, 1991. The amount of this oil was estimated to be at least several hundred thousand barrels, and may have factored into the estimates above 8,000,000 barrels (1,300,000 m3).

Human impact

An oil spill represents an immediate fire hazard. The Kuwaiti oil fires produced air pollution that caused respiratory distress. The Deepwater Horizon explosion killed eleven oil rig workers.[31] The fire resulting from the Lac-Mégantic derailment killed 47 and destroyed half of the town's centre.

Spilled oil can also contaminate drinking water supplies. For example, in 2013 two different oil spills contaminated water supplies for 300,000 in Miri, Malaysia;[32] 80,000 people in Coca, Ecuador.[33] In 2000, springs were contaminated by an oil spill in Clark County, Kentucky.[34]

Contamination can have an economic impact on tourism and marine resource extraction industries. For example, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill impacted beach tourism and fishing along the Gulf Coast, and the responsible parties were required to compensate economic victims.

Environmental effects

Oiled bird 3
A surf scoter covered in oil as a result of the 2007 San Francisco Bay oil spill
Oiled Bird - Black Sea Oil Spill 111207
A bird covered in oil from the Black Sea oil spill

In general, spilled oil can affect animals and plants in two ways: dirесt from the oil and from the response or cleanup process.[35][36] There is no clear relationship between the amount of oil in the aquatic environment and the likely impact on biodiversity. A smaller spill at the wrong time/wrong season and in a sensitive environment may prove much more harmful than a larger spill at another time of the year in another or even the same environment.[37] Oil penetrates into the structure of the plumage of birds and the fur of mammals, reducing their insulating ability, and making them more vulnerable to temperature fluctuations and much less buoyant in the water.

Animals who rely on scent to find their babies or mothers cannot due to the strong scent of the oil. This causes a baby to be rejected and abandoned, leaving the babies to starve and eventually die. Oil can impair a bird's ability to fly, preventing it from foraging or escaping from predators. As they preen, birds may ingest the oil coating their feathers, irritating the digestive tract, altering liver function, and causing kidney damage. Together with their diminished foraging capacity, this can rapidly result in dehydration and metabolic imbalance. Some birds exposed to petroleum also experience changes in their hormonal balance, including changes in their luteinizing protein.[38] The majority of birds affected by oil spills die from complications without human intervention.[39][40] Some studies have suggested that less than one percent of oil-soaked birds survive, even after cleaning,[41] although the survival rate can also exceed ninety percent, as in the case of the Treasure oil spill.[42]

Heavily furred marine mammals exposed to oil spills are affected in similar ways. Oil coats the fur of sea otters and seals, reducing its insulating effect, and leading to fluctuations in body temperature and hypothermia. Oil can also blind an animal, leaving it defenseless. The ingestion of oil causes dehydration and impairs the digestive process. Animals can be poisoned, and may die from oil entering the lungs or liver.

There are three kinds of oil-consuming bacteria. Sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB) and acid-producing bacteria are anaerobic, while general aerobic bacteria (GAB) are aerobic. These bacteria occur naturally and will act to remove oil from an ecosystem, and their biomass will tend to replace other populations in the food chain. The chemicals from the oil which dissolve in water, and hence are available to bacteria, are those in the water associated fraction of the oil.

In addition, oil spills can also harm air quality.[43] The chemicals in crude oil are mostly hydrocarbons that contains toxic chemicals such as benzenes, toluene, poly-aromatic hydrocarbon and oxygenated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.[44] These chemicals can introduce adverse health effects when being inhaled into human body. In addition, these chemicals can be oxidized by oxidants in the atmosphere to form fine particulate matter after they evaporate into the atmosphere.[45] These particulates can penetrate lungs and carry toxic chemicals into the human body. Burning surface oil can also be a source for pollution such as soot particles. During the cleanup and recovery process, it will also generate air pollutants such as nitric oxides and ozone from ships. Lastly, bubble bursting can also be a generation pathway for particulate matter during an oil spill.[46] During the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, significant air quality issues were found on the Gulf Coast, which is the downwind of DWH oil spill. Air quality monitoring data showed that criteria pollutants had exceeded the health-based standard in the coastal regions.[47]

Sources and rate of occurrence

A VLCC tanker can carry 2 million barrels (320,000 m3) of crude oil. This is about eight times the amount spilled in the widely known Exxon Valdez oil spill. In this spill, the ship ran aground and dumped 260,000 barrels (41,000 m3) of oil into the ocean in March 1989. Despite efforts of scientists, managers, and volunteers over 400,000 seabirds, about 1,000 sea otters, and immense numbers of fish were killed.[48] Considering the volume of oil carried by sea, however, tanker owners' organisations often argue that the industry's safety record is excellent, with only a tiny fraction of a percentage of oil cargoes carried ever being spilled. The International Association of Independent Tanker Owners has observed that "accidental oil spills this decade have been at record low levels—one third of the previous decade and one tenth of the 1970s—at a time when oil transported has more than doubled since the mid 1980s."

Oil tankers are just one of the many sources of oil spills. According to the United States Coast Guard, 35.7% of the volume of oil spilled in the United States from 1991 to 2004 came from tank vessels (ships/barges), 27.6% from facilities and other non-vessels, 19.9% from non-tank vessels, and 9.3% from pipelines; 7.4% from mystery spills.[49] On the other hand, only 5% of the actual spills came from oil tankers, while 51.8% came from other kinds of vessels.[49]

The International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation has tracked 9,351 accidental spills that have occurred since 1974.[50] According to this study, most spills result from routine operations such as loading cargo, discharging cargo, and taking on fuel oil.[23] 91% of the operational oil spills are small, resulting in less than 7 metric tons per spill.[23] On the other hand, spills resulting from accidents like collisions, groundings, hull failures, and explosions are much larger, with 84% of these involving losses of over 700 metric tons.[23]

Cleanup and recovery

C-130 support oil spill cleanup
A U.S. Air Force Reserve plane sprays Corexit dispersant over the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Exxon Valdez Cleanup
Clean-up efforts after the Exxon Valdez oil spill.
Harbour Buster high-speed oil containment system
A US Navy oil spill response team drills with a "Harbour Buster high-speed oil containment system".

Cleanup and recovery from an oil spill is difficult and depends upon many factors, including the type of oil spilled, the temperature of the water (affecting evaporation and biodegradation), and the types of shorelines and beaches involved.[1] Physical cleanups of oil spills are also very expensive. However, microorganisms such as Fusobacteria species demonstrate an innovative potential for future oil spill cleanup because of their ability to colonize and degrade oil slicks on the sea surface.[51]

Methods for cleaning up include:[52]

  • Bioremediation: use of microorganisms[53] or biological agents[54] to break down or remove oil; such as the bacteria Alcanivorax[55] or Methylocella Silvestris.[56]
  • Bioremediation Accelerator: Oleophilic, hydrophobic chemical, containing no bacteria, which chemically and physically bonds to both soluble and insoluble hydrocarbons. The bioremediation accelerator acts as a herding agent in water and on the surface, floating molecules to the surface of the water, including solubles such as phenols and BTEX, forming gel-like agglomerations. Undetectable levels of hydrocarbons can be obtained in produced water and manageable water columns. By overspraying sheen with bioremediation accelerator, sheen is eliminated within minutes. Whether applied on land or on water, the nutrient-rich emulsion creates a bloom of local, indigenous, pre-existing, hydrocarbon-consuming bacteria. Those specific bacteria break down the hydrocarbons into water and carbon dioxide, with EPA tests showing 98% of alkanes biodegraded in 28 days; and aromatics being biodegraded 200 times faster than in nature they also sometimes use the hydrofireboom to clean the oil up by taking it away from most of the oil and burning it.[57]
  • Controlled burning can effectively reduce the amount of oil in water, if done properly.[58] But it can only be done in low wind,[59] and can cause air pollution.[60]
Close-up of Lake Maracaibo, Venezuela
Oil slicks on Lake Maracaibo
Volunteers cleaning up the aftermath of the Prestige oil spill
  • Dispersants can be used to dissipate oil slicks.[61] A dispersant is either a non-surface active polymer or a surface-active substance added to a suspension, usually a colloid, to improve the separation of particles and to prevent settling or clumping. They may rapidly disperse large amounts of certain oil types from the sea surface by transferring it into the water column. They will cause the oil slick to break up and form water-soluble micelles that are rapidly diluted. The oil is then effectively spread throughout a larger volume of water than the surface from where the oil was dispersed. They can also delay the formation of persistent oil-in-water emulsions. However, laboratory experiments showed that dispersants increased toxic hydrocarbon levels in fish by a factor of up to 100 and may kill fish eggs.[62] Dispersed oil droplets infiltrate into deeper water and can lethally contaminate coral. Research indicates that some dispersants are toxic to corals.[63] A 2012 study found that Corexit dispersant had increased the toxicity of oil by up to 52 times.[64]
  • Watch and wait: in some cases, natural attenuation of oil may be most appropriate, due to the invasive nature of facilitated methods of remediation, particularly in ecologically sensitive areas such as wetlands.[65]
  • Dredging: for oils dispersed with detergents and other oils denser than water.
  • Skimming: Requires calm waters at all times during the process.
  • Solidifying: Solidifiers are composed of tiny, floating, dry ice pellets,[66][67][68] and hydrophobic polymers that both adsorb and absorb. They clean up oil spills by changing the physical state of spilled oil from liquid to a solid, semi-solid or a rubber-like material that floats on water.[36] Solidifiers are insoluble in water, therefore the removal of the solidified oil is easy and the oil will not leach out. Solidifiers have been proven to be relatively non-toxic to aquatic and wild life and have been proven to suppress harmful vapors commonly associated with hydrocarbons such as benzene, xylene and naphtha. The reaction time for solidification of oil is controlled by the surface area or size of the polymer or dry pellets as well as the viscosity and thickness of the oil layer. Some solidifier product manufactures claim the solidified oil can be thawed and used if frozen with dry ice or disposed of in landfills, recycled as an additive in asphalt or rubber products, or burned as a low ash fuel. A solidifier called C.I.Agent (manufactured by C.I.Agent Solutions of Louisville, Kentucky) is being used by BP in granular form, as well as in Marine and Sheen Booms at Dauphin Island and Fort Morgan, Alabama, to aid in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill cleanup.
  • Vacuum and centrifuge: oil can be sucked up along with the water, and then a centrifuge can be used to separate the oil from the water – allowing a tanker to be filled with near pure oil. Usually, the water is returned to the sea, making the process more efficient, but allowing small amounts of oil to go back as well. This issue has hampered the use of centrifuges due to a United States regulation limiting the amount of oil in water returned to the sea.[69]
  • Beach Raking: coagulated oil that is left on the beach can be picked up by machinery.
Valdez Trash Pile
Bags of oily waste from the Exxon Valdez oil spill

Equipment used includes:[58]

  • Booms: large floating barriers that round up oil and lift the oil off the water
  • Skimmers: skim the oil
  • Sorbents: large absorbents that absorb oil
  • Chemical and biological agents: helps to break down the oil
  • Vacuums: remove oil from beaches and water surface
  • Shovels and other road equipment: typically used to clean up oil on beaches


  • Secondary containment – methods to prevent releases of oil or hydrocarbons into environment.
  • Oil Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures (SPCC) program by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Double-hulling – build double hulls into vessels, which reduces the risk and severity of a spill in case of a collision or grounding. Existing single-hull vessels can also be rebuilt to have a double hull.
  • Thick-hulled railroad transport tanks.[70]

Spill response procedures should include elements such as;

  • A listing of appropriate protective clothing, safety equipment, and cleanup materials required

for spill cleanup (gloves, respirators, etc.) and an explanation of their proper use;

  • Appropriate evacuation zones and procedures;
  • Availability of fire suppression equipment;
  • Disposal containers for spill cleanup materials; and
  • The first aid procedures that might be required.[71]

Environmental Sensitivity Index (ESI) mapping

Environmental Sensitivity Index (ESI) maps are used to identify sensitive shoreline resources prior to an oil spill event in order to set priorities for protection and plan cleanup strategies.[72][73] By planning spill response ahead of time, the impact on the environment can be minimized or prevented. Environmental sensitivity index maps are basically made up of information within the following three categories: shoreline type, and biological and human-use resources.[74]

Shoreline type

Shoreline type is classified by rank depending on how easy the target site would be to clean up, how long the oil would persist, and how sensitive the shoreline is.[75] The floating oil slicks put the shoreline at particular risk when they eventually come ashore, covering the substrate with oil. The differing substrates between shoreline types vary in their response to oiling, and influence the type of cleanup that will be required to effectively decontaminate the shoreline. In 1995, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration extended ESI maps to lakes, rivers, and estuary shoreline types.[74] The exposure the shoreline has to wave energy and tides, substrate type, and slope of the shoreline are also taken into account—in addition to biological productivity and sensitivity. The productivity of the shoreline habitat is also taken into account when determining ESI ranking.[76] Mangroves and marshes tend to have higher ESI rankings due to the potentially long-lasting and damaging effects of both the oil contamination and cleanup actions. Impermeable and exposed surfaces with high wave action are ranked lower due to the reflecting waves keeping oil from coming onshore, and the speed at which natural processes will remove the oil.

Biological resources

Habitats of plants and animals that may be at risk from oil spills are referred to as "elements" and are divided by functional group. Further classification divides each element into species groups with similar life histories and behaviors relative to their vulnerability to oil spills. There are eight element groups: Birds, Reptiles, Amphibians, Fish, Invertebrates, Habitats and Plants, Wetlands, and Marine Mammals and Terrestrial Mammals. Element groups are further divided into sub-groups, for example, the ‘marine mammals’ element group is divided into dolphins, manatees, pinnipeds (seals, sea lions & walruses), polar bears, sea otters and whales.[74][76] Problems taken into consideration when ranking biological resources include the observance of a large number of individuals in a small area, whether special life stages occur ashore (nesting or molting), and whether there are species present that are threatened, endangered or rare.[77]

Human-use resources

Human use resources are divided into four major classifications; archaeological importance or cultural resource site, high-use recreational areas or shoreline access points, important protected management areas, or resource origins.[74][77] Some examples include airports, diving sites, popular beach sites, marinas, natural reserves or marine sanctuaries.

Estimating the volume of a spill

By observing the thickness of the film of oil and its appearance on the surface of the water, it is possible to estimate the quantity of oil spilled. If the surface area of the spill is also known, the total volume of the oil can be calculated.[78]

Film thickness Quantity spread
Appearance inches mm nm gal/sq mi L/ha
Barely visible 0.0000015 0.0000380 38 25 0.370
Silvery sheen 0.0000030 0.0000760 76 50 0.730
First trace of color 0.0000060 0.0001500 150 100 1.500
Bright bands of color 0.0000120 0.0003000 300 200 2.900
Colors begin to dull 0.0000400 0.0010000 1000 666 9.700
Colors are much darker 0.0000800 0.0020000 2000 1332 19.500

Oil spill model systems are used by industry and government to assist in planning and emergency decision making. Of critical importance for the skill of the oil spill model prediction is the adequate description of the wind and current fields. There is a worldwide oil spill modelling (WOSM) program.[79] Tracking the scope of an oil spill may also involve verifying that hydrocarbons collected during an ongoing spill are derived from the active spill or some other source. This can involve sophisticated analytical chemistry focused on finger printing an oil source based on the complex mixture of substances present. Largely, these will be various hydrocarbons, among the most useful being polyaromatic hydrocarbons. In addition, both oxygen and nitrogen heterocyclic hydrocarbons, such as parent and alkyl homologues of carbazole, quinoline, and pyridine, are present in many crude oils. As a result, these compounds have great potential to supplement the existing suite of hydrocarbons targets to fine-tune source tracking of petroleum spills. Such analysis can also be used to follow weathering and degradation of crude spills.[80]

See also


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Further reading

1971 San Francisco Bay oil spill

The 1971 San Francisco Bay oil spill occurred when two Standard Oil Company of California tankers, the Arizona Standard and the Oregon Standard, collided on January 19, 1971, in the San Francisco Bay. The resulting 800,000 gallon spill, the largest in Bay Area history, threatened sensitive natural habitats both inside and outside the bay, including the Bolinas Lagoon, and contributed to the growth of activism against pollution, after thousands of bay area residents volunteered to clean up beaches and rescue oil soaked birds. A number of environmental organizations had their origins in the spill cleanup. Standard Oil spent more than $1 million in the clean-up.

Anadarko Petroleum

Anadarko Petroleum Corporation is a company engaged in hydrocarbon exploration. It is organized in Delaware and headquartered in two skyscrapers in The Woodlands, Texas: the Allison Tower and the Hackett Tower, both named after former CEOs of the company.

The company has been the subject of multiple environmental cases, including the largest environmental contamination settlement in American history - the 2014 settlement related to the former Tronox subsidiary of Kerr McGee, a company purchased by Anadarko in 2006.The company is ranked 257th on the Fortune 500.In addition to exploration and production, the company engages in petroleum and natural gas gathering, processing, treating, and transportation. The company also participates in the hard minerals business through its ownership of non-operated joint ventures and royalty arrangements. As of December 31, 2018, the company had approximately 1.473 billion barrels of oil equivalent (9.01×109 GJ) of proved reserves, 45% of which was oil reserves, 37% of which was natural gas, and 18% was natural gas liquids. In 2018, the company produced 666 thousand barrels of oil equivalent (4,070,000 GJ) per day.The company’s operations in the United States accounted for 86% of total sales volumes during 2018 and 88% of total proved reserves at year-end 2018. In the United States, the company has major holdings in the Delaware Basin, where it has over 580,000 gross acres, primarily in the Cline Shale; the Denver Basin, where it has more than 400,000 net acres; operating 4,600 vertical wells and 1,400 horizontal wells, and in Greater Natural Buttes, Utah, where it has approximately 2,850 wells.The company’s international operations accounted for 14% of total sales volumes during 2018 and 12% of total proved reserves at year-end 2018. The company has holdings in Algeria, Ghana, Mozambique, Colombia, and Côte d’Ivoire.

Barataria Bay

Barataria Bay, also Barrataria Bay, is a bay of the Gulf of Mexico, about 15 miles (24 km) long and 12 miles (19 km) wide, in southeastern Louisiana, in Jefferson Parish and Plaquemines Parish, United States. It is separated from the gulf by two barrier islands, Grand Isle and Grand Terre.The bay takes its name from the Spanish novel Don Quixote, in which the insula Barataria, or Barataria island, appears as a fictional territory governed by Sancho Panza.

Cosco Busan oil spill

The Cosco Busan oil spill occurred at 08:30 UTC-8 on 7 November 2007 between San Francisco and Oakland, California, in which 53,569 US gal (202,780 L) of IFO-380 heavy fuel oil, sometimes referred to as "bunker fuel", spilled into San Francisco Bay after the container ship Cosco Busan, operated by Fleet Management Ltd., struck Delta Tower of the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge in thick fog.

Investigators found that maritime pilot John Cota was impaired because of his use of prescription pharmaceuticals while piloting the container vessel, which rendered him unable to use the onboard radar and electronic navigation charts correctly. This occurred despite the fact that the Vessel Traffic Service of the United States Coast Guard warned Cota that the vessel was headed for the bridge. Cota was sentenced to 10 months in federal prison for his role in the incident.California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency after meeting federal, state and local officials overseeing the cleanup. The proclamation made additional state personnel, funding and equipment available to assess and clean up the environmental damage.

Deepwater Horizon

Deepwater Horizon was an ultra-deepwater, dynamically positioned, semi-submersible offshore drilling rig owned by Transocean. Built in 2001 in South Korea by Hyundai Heavy Industries, the rig was commissioned by R&B Falcon (a later asset of Transocean), registered in Majuro, and leased to BP from 2001 until September 2013. In September 2009, the rig drilled the deepest oil well in history at a vertical depth of 35,050 ft (10,683 m) and measured depth of 35,055 ft (10,685 m) in the Tiber Oil Field at Keathley Canyon block 102, approximately 250 miles (400 km) southeast of Houston, in 4,132 feet (1,259 m) of water.On 20 April 2010, while drilling at the Macondo Prospect, an uncontrollable blowout caused an explosion on the rig that killed 11 crewmen and ignited a fireball visible from 40 miles (64 km) away. The fire was inextinguishable and, two days later, on 22 April, the Horizon sank, leaving the well gushing at the seabed and causing the largest oil spill in U.S. waters.

Deepwater Horizon explosion

The Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion was the April 20, 2010, explosion and subsequent fire on the Deepwater Horizon semi-submersible Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit (MODU), which was owned and operated by Transocean and drilling for BP in the Macondo Prospect oil field about 40 miles (60 km) southeast off the Louisiana coast. The explosion and subsequent fire resulted in the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon and the deaths of 11 workers; 17 others were injured. The same blowout that caused the explosion also caused a massive offshore oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, considered the largest accidental marine oil spill in the world, and the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history.

Deepwater Horizon oil spill

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill (also referred to as the BP oil spill/leak, the BP oil disaster, the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and the Macondo blowout) is an industrial disaster that began on April 20, 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 and estimated to be 8% to 31% larger in volume than the previous largest, the Ixtoc I oil spill, also in the Gulf of Mexico. The U.S. government estimated the total discharge at 4.9 million barrels (210 million US gal; 780,000 m3). After several failed efforts to contain the flow, the well was declared sealed on September 19, 2010. Reports in early 2012 indicated that the well site was still leaking.A massive response ensued to protect beaches, wetlands and estuaries from the spreading oil utilizing skimmer ships, floating booms, controlled burns and 1.84 million US gallons (7,000 m3) of oil dispersant. Due to the months-long spill, along with adverse effects from the response and cleanup activities, extensive damage to marine and wildlife habitats and fishing and tourism industries was reported. In Louisiana, 4,900,000 pounds (2,200 t) of oily material was removed from the beaches in 2013, over double the amount collected in 2012. Oil cleanup crews worked four days a week on 55 miles (89 km) of Louisiana shoreline throughout 2013. Oil continued to be found as far from the Macondo site as the waters off the Florida Panhandle and Tampa Bay, where scientists said the oil and dispersant mixture is embedded in the sand. In April 2013, it was reported that dolphins and other marine life continued to die in record numbers with infant dolphins dying at six times the normal rate. One study released in 2014 reported that tuna and amberjack that were exposed to oil from the spill developed deformities of the heart and other organs that would be expected to be fatal or at least life-shortening and another study found that cardiotoxicity might have been widespread in animal life exposed to the spill.Numerous investigations explored the causes of the explosion and record-setting spill. The U.S. government September 2011 report pointed to defective cement on the well, faulting mostly BP, but also rig operator Transocean and contractor Halliburton. Earlier in 2011, a White House commission likewise blamed BP and its partners for a series of cost-cutting decisions and an inadequate safety system, but also concluded that the spill resulted from "systemic" root causes and "absent significant reform in both industry practices and government policies, might well recur".In November 2012, BP and the United States Department of Justice settled federal criminal charges with BP pleading guilty to 11 counts of manslaughter, two misdemeanors, and a felony count of lying to Congress. BP also agreed to four years of government monitoring of its safety practices and ethics, and the Environmental Protection Agency announced that BP would be temporarily banned from new contracts with the US government. BP and the Department of Justice agreed to a record-setting $4.525 billion in fines and other payments. As of February 2013, criminal and civil settlements and payments to a trust fund had cost the company $42.2 billion.In September 2014, a U.S. District Court judge ruled that BP was primarily responsible for the oil spill because of its gross negligence and reckless conduct. In July 2015, BP agreed to pay $18.7 billion in fines, the largest corporate settlement in U.S. history.

Environmental impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill

The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has been described as the worst environmental disaster in the United States, releasing about 4.9 million barrels (210 million US gal; 780,000 m3) of crude oil making it the largest marine oil spill. Both the spill and the cleanup efforts had effects on the environment.

The oil spill was called the "worst environmental disaster the US has faced" by White House energy adviser Carol Browner. The spill was by far the largest in US history, almost 20 times greater than the usual estimate of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Factors such as petroleum toxicity, oxygen depletion and the use of Corexit are expected to be the main causes of damage.


Exxon Mobil Corporation, doing business as ExxonMobil, is an American multinational oil and gas corporation headquartered in Irving, Texas. It is the largest direct descendant of John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil Company, and was formed on November 30, 1999 by the merger of Exxon (formerly the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey) and Mobil (formerly the Standard Oil Company of New York). ExxonMobil's primary brands are Exxon, Mobil, Esso, and ExxonMobil Chemical.The world's 9th largest company by revenue, ExxonMobil from 1996 to 2017 varied from the first to sixth largest publicly traded company by market capitalization. The company was ranked ninth globally in the Forbes Global 2000 list in 2016. ExxonMobil was the second most profitable company in the Fortune 500 in 2014. As of 2018, the company ranked second in the Fortune 500 rankings of the largest United States corporations by total revenue.ExxonMobil is one of the largest of the world's Big Oil companies. As of 2007, it had daily production of 3.921 million BOE (barrels of oil equivalent); but significantly smaller than a number of national companies. In 2008, this was approximately 3 percent of world production, which is less than several of the largest state-owned petroleum companies. When ranked by oil and gas reserves, it is 14th in the world—with less than 1 percent of the total. ExxonMobil's reserves were 20 billion BOE at the end of 2016 and the 2007 rates of production were expected to last more than 14 years. With 37 oil refineries in 21 countries constituting a combined daily refining capacity of 6.3 million barrels (1,000,000 m3), ExxonMobil is the largest refiner in the world, a title that was also associated with Standard Oil since its incorporation in 1870.ExxonMobil has been criticized for its slow response to cleanup efforts after the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska, widely considered to be one of the world's worst oil spills in terms of damage to the environment. ExxonMobil has a history of lobbying for climate change denial and against the scientific consensus that global warming is caused by the burning of fossil fuels. The company has also been the target of accusations of improperly dealing with human rights issues, influence on American foreign policy, and its impact on the future of nations.

Exxon Valdez

Oriental Nicety, formerly Exxon Valdez, Exxon Mediterranean, SeaRiver Mediterranean, S/R Mediterranean, Mediterranean, and Dong Fang Ocean, was an oil tanker that gained notoriety after running aground in Prince William Sound spilling hundreds of thousands of barrels of crude oil in Alaska. On March 24, 1989, while owned by the former Exxon Shipping Company, and captained by Joseph Hazelwood and First Mate James Kunkel bound for Long Beach, California, the vessel ran aground on the Bligh Reef resulting in the second largest oil spill in United States history. The size of the spill is estimated to have been 40,900 to 120,000 m3 (10,800,000 to 31,700,000 US gal), or 257,000 to 750,000 barrels. In 1989, the Exxon Valdez oil spill was listed as the 54th largest spill in history.

Exxon Valdez oil spill

The Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred in Prince William Sound, Alaska, March 24, 1989, when Exxon Valdez, an oil tanker owned by Exxon Shipping Company, bound for Long Beach, California, struck Prince William Sound's Bligh Reef, 1.5 miles west of Tatitlek, Alaska at 12:04 am local time and spilled 10.8 million US gallons (260,000 bbl)(or a mass of 35,000 metric tonnes) of crude oil over the next few days. It is considered to be one of the most devastating human-caused environmental disasters. The Valdez spill is the second largest in US waters, after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, in terms of volume released. Prince William Sound's remote location, accessible only by helicopter, plane, or boat, made government and industry response efforts difficult and severely taxed existing response plans. The region is a habitat for salmon, sea otters, seals and seabirds. The oil, originally extracted at the Prudhoe Bay oil field, eventually impacted 1,300 miles (2,100 km) of coastline, of which 200 miles (320 km) were heavily or moderately oiled with an obvious impact.

Guimaras oil spill

The Guimaras oil spill occurred in the Panay Gulf on August 11, 2006 when the oil tanker M/T Solar 1 sank off the coast of Guimaras and Negros islands in the Philippines, causing what is considered as the worst oil spill in the country.

Ixtoc I oil spill

Ixtoc I was an exploratory oil well being drilled by the semi-submersible drilling rig Sedco 135 in the Bay of Campeche of the Gulf of Mexico, about 100 km (62 mi) northwest of Ciudad del Carmen, Campeche in waters 50 m (160 ft) deep. On 3 June 1979, the well suffered a blowout resulting in one of the largest oil spills in history.

List of oil spills

This is a reverse-chronological list of oil spills that have occurred throughout the world and spill(s) that are currently ongoing. Quantities are measured in tonnes of crude oil with one tonne roughly equal to 308 US gallons, 256 Imperial gallons, 7.33 barrels, or 1165 litres. This calculation uses a median value of 0.858 for the specific gravity of light crude oil; actual values can range from 0.816 to 0.893, so the amounts shown below are inexact. They are also estimates, because the actual volume of an oil spill is difficult to measure exactly.

Prestige oil spill

The Prestige oil spill occurred off the coast of Galicia, Spain, caused by the sinking of the 26 year old structurally deficient oil tanker MV Prestige in November 2002, carrying 77,000 tonnes of heavy fuel oil. During a storm, it burst a tank on November 13, and sank on November 19, 2002, about 130 miles (210 km) from the coast of Galicia. It is estimated that it spilled 17.8 million US gallons (420,000 bbl) (or a mass of 60,000 metric tonnes) of heavy fuel oil.

The spill polluted thousands of kilometers of coastline and more than one thousand beaches on the Spanish, French and Portuguese coast, as well as causing great harm to the local fishing industry. The spill is the largest environmental disaster in the history of both Spain and Portugal. The amount of oil spilled was more than the Exxon Valdez incident and the toxicity considered higher, because of the higher water temperatures.

In 2007 the Southern District of New York dismissed a 2003 lawsuit by the Kingdom of Spain against the American Bureau of Shipping, the international classification society which had certified the Prestige as in compliance with rules and laws, because ABS was a "person" per the International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage and exempt from direct liability for pollution damage. The 2012 trial of the Galicia regional High Court did not find the merchant shipping company, nor the insurer, the London P&I Club nor any Spanish government official, but only the Captain of the ship guilty and gave him a nine-month suspended sentence for disobedience. In January 2016 the Spanish Supreme Court held the London P&I Club liable in damages up to the amount of its overall cover for the shipowner for pollution of $1 billion. The judgment is unlikely to be enforceable in the UK against the London P&I Club, due to an arbitration award declaring it not to be liable, which was subsequently converted into a judgment. The overall damages awarded by the court in La Coruna in 2017 were about $1.8m, a figure confirmed by the Spanish Supreme Court in December 2018.

Prudhoe Bay oil spill

The Prudhoe Bay oil spill (2006 Alaskan oil spill) was an oil spill that was discovered on March 2, 2006 at a pipeline owned by BP Exploration, Alaska (BPXA) in western Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. Initial estimates of the five-day leak said that up to 267,000 US gallons (6,400 bbl) were spilled over 1.9 acres (7,700 m2), making it the largest oil spill on Alaska's north slope to date. Alaska's unified command ratified the volume of crude oil spilled as 212,252 US gallons (5,053.6 bbl) in March 2008. The spill originated from a 0.25-inch (0.64 cm) hole in a 34-inch (86 cm) diameter pipeline. The pipeline was decommissioned and later replaced with a 20-inch (51 cm) diameter pipeline with its own pipeline inspection gauge (pig) launch and recovery sites for easier inspection.In November 2007, BPXA pleaded guilty to negligent discharge of oil, which prosecutors said was the result of BP's knowing neglect of corroding pipelines,a misdemeanor under the federal Clean Water Act, and was fined US$20 million. In July 2011, BPXA paid a $25 million civil penalty, the largest per-barrel penalty at that time for an oil spill, and agreed to take measures to significantly improve inspection and maintenance of its pipeline infrastructure on the North Slope to reduce the threat of additional oil spills. In November 2012, it was announced that the U.S. state of Alaska would collect $255 million related to BP Plc's pipeline leaks and a resulting shutdown in 2006. BP's share was $66 million since it would pay the award and then be reimbursed by partners, including Exxon Mobil Corp and ConocoPhillips, based on their proportionate share of ownership.

Unified Command (Deepwater Horizon oil spill)

The Unified Command provides Incident Command System/Unified Command (ICS) for coordinating response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The organization was initially headquartered at the Shell Robert Training and Conference Center in Robert, Louisiana. Robert has 20 streets and one stop light. On June 15, 2010, they announced plans to move its 350 staff into 38,224 square feet (3,551.1 m2) of space to downtown New Orleans, Louisiana near the Superdome.The group works via consensus on managing the spill and making official statements. Incident commanders from each group report to the National Incident Commander, Admiral Thad Allen, USCG. The Command has Incident Command Centers in Houma, Louisiana; Mobile, Alabama; and Miami, Florida (moving on June 11 from St. Petersburg, Florida).Among the functions is the Joint Information Center, consisting of Public information officers from the various components which coordinates the daily news.

Wabamun Lake

Wabamun Lake (sometimes spelled Wabumun) is one of the most heavily used lakes in Alberta, Canada. It lies 65 kilometres (40 mi) west of Edmonton, Alberta. It is 19.2 kilometres (11.9 mi) long and 6.6 kilometres (4.1 mi) narrow, covers 82 square kilometres (32 sq mi) and is 11 metres (36 ft) deep at its deepest, with somewhat clear water.Its name derives from the Cree word for mirror.

Wabamun was reputedly the best whitefish lake in the Edmonton area and is well known for its large northern pike. A large variety of migrating, breeding and moulting wildfowl visit the lake. Beaver and muskrat use the lake while the surrounding upland supports coyotes, porcupine, moose and white-tailed deer. There are also reported sightings of cougars and wolves and bears. Alberta Fish and Wildlife has confirmed that there have been wolf kills of cattle and sheep near Isle Lake (just northwest of Wabamun Lake). There are natural beaches along much of the shoreline, but emergent vegetation restricts their use. The most popular beaches for swimming are the artificially made one at the provincial park in Moonlight Bay, and the natural one at Seba Beach. There are numerous recreational cottages along its shores. Several communities line the north shore of the lake, the largest being the Village of Wabamun. Rich coal deposits surrounding the lake have been mined by TransAlta for power plants it operates and that are cooled by lake water.

Yellowstone River

The Yellowstone River is a tributary of the Missouri River, approximately 692 miles (1,114 km) long, in the western United States. Considered the principal tributary of the upper Missouri, the river and its tributaries drain a wide area stretching from the Rocky Mountains in the vicinity of the Yellowstone National Park across the mountains and high plains of southern Montana and northern Wyoming.

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