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BP Deepwater Horizon Louisiana Oil Spill

Updated on November 7, 2014

Louisiana Oil Spill Information

This page provides information about the Deepwater Horizon Louisiana Oil Spill.

The oil rig that exploded and sank in the Gulf of Mexico was owned by Transocean Ltd. and leased by BP PLC.

Early estimates suggested that the disaster was leaking around 5,000 barrels per day into the Gulf of Mexico.

On May 27, 2010, government estimates were revised, making it the largest oil spill in U.S. History. The new estimate of the amount of oil flowing from BP's leaking oil well was developed by the National Incident Command's Flow Rate Technical Group (FRTG). The group estimated the flow of oil to be in the range of 12,000 and 19,000 barrels per day.

The world awaited news for several days as BP executed "Operation Top Kill", a plan to seal the well and stop oil from escaping into the Gulf of Mexico. Eventually the company determined the "top kill" method had failed after after it spent three days pumping heavy drilling mud into the crippled well.

The next effort involved cutting off the damaged riser pipe and installing a coupler (LMRP) to capture oil that is flowing from the well. Early results were disappointing as the world watched BP's live feed of untold gallons of oil escaping daily around the coupling.

By early June, estimates of the original flow were revised again to a sickening 20,000-40,000 barrels per day, since day 1. The estimate was revised yet again a few days later to 35,000-60,000 barrels per day.

On July 15, 2010, the flow of oil was finally contained after the installation of an improved cap which fit tightly onto the crippled stack.

Optimism was guarded as cleanup efforts continue. Remarking on the capping, President Obama explained:

"I think it's important that we don't get ahead of ourselves here.

".... We won't be done until we actually know that we killed the well and have a permanent solution in place."

photo credit: U.S. Coast Guard

The BP Oil Rig Disaster and Spill off Louisiana - April 2010


Following an explosion, fire and sinking of the Transocean Deepwater Horizon drilling rig 130 miles southeast of New Orleans, Louisiana faces an oil spill with potential for serious damage to the environment and much of the Gulf of Mexico seafood industry.

According to government reports, by April 30, 2010 nearly 2,000 personnel were involved in the response effort. The federal government has been engaged in the response since the incident occurred April 20.

126 people were on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig when the incident occurred. 11 were lost.

In response to the BP oil spill, the Secretary of Defense is authorizing under Title 32 the mobilization of the Louisiana National Guard to help in the ongoing efforts to assist local communities in the cleanup and removal of oil and to protect critical habitats from contamination.

As the responsible party in this incident, the government claims it will hold BP accountable for the costs of the deployment.

Rate BP on Their Response

How would you rate BP on their response to the oil spill?

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Important Information - Phone Numbers

To report oiled or injured wildlife, please call 1-800-557-1401.

To report spill related damage claims, please call 1-800-440-0858.

To report oil on land, or for general Community and Volunteer Information, please call 1-866-448-5816.

In May, BP established a new claims office in Foley, AL. The office hours are from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day. The address is 1506 N. McKenzie, Suite 104, Foley, AL. The toll-free number for claims continues to be 1-800-440-0858.

Rate your National Government

How would you rate the federal government's response to the 2010 BP oil spill off the coast of Louisiana?

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How is the Nation Reacting to the Spill?

Steve Wereley, a professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University, told CNN's "American Morning" that the spill could be as big as 20,000 to 100,000 barrels a day.

In May of 2010 Rep. Ed Markey, who leads a House subcommittee investigating the disaster, told reporters, "I think now we are beginning to understand that we cannot trust BP."

"People do not trust the experts any longer,"

"BP has lost all credibility. Now the decisions will have to be made by others, because it is clear that they have been hiding the actual consequences of this spill."

In a May 12 press release, he stated "As a result of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster, lives have been lost, livelihoods have been threatened, and a huge ocean and coastal ecosystem has been endangered. We have a duty and obligation to find out what happened here, why it happened, who was responsible, and how we can ensure that it never happens again."

On May 20, 2010, the Obama administration announced that it was ordering BP to release all data related to the massive spill, including environmental sampling analyses, internal investigation reports and details of the cleanup effort. A letter to BP from the Homeland Security Secretary and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator told BP to post information on a website and update it daily.

On June 15, 2010, President Obama addressed the nation from the Oval Office. During his speech, he called BP's actions "reckless" and promised a national effort to clean up the spill, restore the environment and reform oil regulations.

"I've talked to shrimpers and fishermen who don't know how they're going to support their families this year," Obama recounted. "The sadness and anger they feel is not just about the money they've lost. It's about a wrenching anxiety that their way of life may be lost."

Oil Spill Boom Technology

Oil spilled at sea begins to move and spread into very thin layers. The main purpose of booms is to protect shores or to corral the oil on the water to enhance recovery effectiveness of skimmers or other response techniques.

There are several types of boom, including hard boom, sorbent boom, and fire boom.

* Hard boom is used to contain, deflect or exclude oil from shorelines. Hard boom is typically made of a durable PVC type material and comes in various sizes.

* Hard boom can be towed behind boats and concentrate oil in the apex of the boom to allow for skimmers to recover it.

* Hard boom can also be anchored offshore of sensitive areas and exclude oil from reaching those locations. In this scenario, no oil is collected and oil is deflected to other locations.

* Sorbent booms are made of materials that attracts oil but repel water. These materials are placed in fabric socks and look like a long sausage. Sorbent booms don't have the "skirt" that hard booms have; once saturated, the sorbents need to be removed.

* Fire booms are similar to hard boom, but designed to withstand the heat of the burning that can exceed 2,000 degrees F.

source: NOAA boom fact sheet

Media Links

These links include notable articles and photo galleries from major online news media.

Did the U.S. Government Allow the Oil Spill to Happen?

Events that lead up to the disaster.

According to government documents, the U.S. Department of Interior exempted BP's Gulf of Mexico drilling operation from a detailed environmental impact analysis in 2009, after three reviews of the area concluded that a massive oil spill was unlikely.

The decision by the Department of Interior's Minerals Management Service (MMS) to give BP's lease at Deepwater Horizon a "categorical exclusion" from the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) on 6 April 2009 has fueled suggestions that neither federal regulators nor the company anticipated an accident of the scale of the one now unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico.

In May, 2010, President Obama acknowledged that his administration was not aggressive enough making reforms in the Minerals Management Service.

In a press conference, the President noted the agency "had been plagued by corruption for years," while simultaneously carrying on a "scandalously close relationship" with the oil companies.

Should the $75 million oil company liability cap be lifted?

There is currently a $75 million cap on how much an oil company has to pay in the event of a disaster. Unfortunately, the fishing communities, restaurant owners, tourism industry and other individuals affected by this current disaster have lost more than this much already and will lose more in the days, months and years to come.

Should the $75 million cap on how much an oil company has to pay in the event of a disaster?

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Deepwater Horizon Response Public Information Website

On December 29, 2010, NOAA announced its web archive of the maps, wildlife reports, scientific reports and other previously released public information used by emergency responders, fishermen, mariners and local officials during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The NOAA Deepwater Horizon Library can be accessed via

The website contains previously released public information related to the response, including:

* 450 nearshore, offshore and cumulative oil trajectory forecasts

* 33 fishery closure area and 9 fishery reopening maps

* 129 wildlife reports for animals including sea turtles and marine mammals

* 58 nautical chart updates

* 38 Gulf loop current location maps

* More than 4,000 "spot" weather forecasts requested by responders

The archive also contains image and video galleries, fact sheets and publications, press releases and transcripts, educational resources, and mission logs by crew members on board several of the eight NOAA ships responding to the spill and the damage assessment. NOAA will continue to update the website with information products in the weeks and months ahead.

source: NOAA press release

Long Term Effects Of The Oil Spill

The following articles provide information concerning possible long term effects of oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico.

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    • paperfacets profile image

      Sherry Venegas 7 years ago from La Verne, CA

      Actully, I just read the Special Report about the spill in the Audubon Magazine. They consider the Administration's response good and the care for the damaged birds good, as well.

    • profile image

      GrowWear 7 years ago

      A much-needed voice about the BP oil spill. Congratulations on your Purple Star!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Thank you for a fact filled and helpful lens, which avoids politicizing this dreadful environmental disaster. Congratulations on your Purple Star - well deserved :)

    • clouda9 lm profile image

      clouda9 lm 7 years ago

      It is so hard to fathom from my neck of the woods just how much this has impacted the lives of people living in this area. Thank you for pulling this most excellent resource together so that ALL of us may know and possibly help out with this disaster.

      Congrats on your purple star...well deserved for sure!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Thank you for adding a link to my post "Artists Aiding Gulf Coast Efforts". It is much appreciated.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      My comment is that I suspected the relief wells pumping in cement wouldn't work, then I was reminded of the mexican disaster in 1979, and it confermed my suspicion. I was a sophmore in highschool then.

      What is going to happen is as they pump in the cement, Oil rises faster than cement because it is lighter, so it creates a river in and through the cement, it will slow down but not stop, until the cement (cheese curd) reaches the inlet pumping. Now think about this for a little bit, if oil continues to come out of the well, it will be a failure and another stratagie will have to be taken.

      I have submitted many idea's and even I would have to study each of my own idea's to see which one would be the best under the curent cercumstances. Eventually what will have to be done is put a ring around the blow out preventer maybe 10 feet in diameter, or after pumping up a lot of cement larger, put a pipe on top of that to allow the oil to rise with out going through the cement and put a valve or blow out preventor on top of that and fill it with cement to connect and seal it to the current blow out preventor, after that cement cures, shut the valve. If the oil is not allowed to pass through this valve the cement will do as it will do in the well it self and rivers will form inside the cement and the oil will continue to leak. I appologize for my spelling, but even in High school I got a 98 percent on my mechanical skills.

    • Jmel37 profile image

      Jmel37 7 years ago

      This is a great lens; a lot of information, great links, and the photos - I don't want to say great, because this whole incident is anything but great - they do a good job making a visual impact on those who look at them.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 7 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I am so glad you created this lens which is filled with information about the horrible Oil Leak. Lensrolled to my Shrimp Boats lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Why is'nt anyone asking what Cheny and his Bushboy have to do with the oil spill? The crimes seem to be mounting.How's that drill baby drill thingy doing for you repubs now. No more chemical in the gulf . This is a crime being done before our eyes.

    • profile image

      popworm 7 years ago

      Great lens! Our hearts go out to everyone around the Gulf Coast.

    • Lexi LM profile image

      Lexi LM 7 years ago

      Good informative lens!