January 9, 2014
Unit 9 Paper
BP Oil Spill
The BP Oil Spill, also known as the Deepwater Horizon Spill, or the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, was arguably one of the most overwhelming and ecologically hazardous events of the 21st century. It all began on April 20, 2010 when an explosion occurred at an oil and gas prospect, located in the Mississippi Canyon Block 252 (MC252) also known as the Macondo Prospect in the Gulf of Mexico. The Macondo Prospect was the site for the Deepwater semi-submersible Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit (MODU), which is owned by Transocean and was leased to BP from 2001 to 2013 for offshore oil drilling. The explosion killed eleven and wounded seventeen, many of which who were Transocean/BP crewmen (theguardian, 2010). The aftermath of the explosion affected many entities such as marine life, wildlife habitats, fishing, and tourism industries; they all suffered extensive damages from the oil spill. Additionally, the explosion ignited an inextinguishable fire that eventually destroyed and sank the Deepwater horizon, which left the oil well exposed and gushing at the bottom of the ocean. This uncontained exposure resulted in the discharge of about 4.9 million barrels of oil, which is equivalent to 210 million U.S. gallons of oil released into the Gulf of Mexico. This oil spill ultimately resulted in the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history.
The amount of oil that was gushing out per day was unbelievable. With about 5,000 gallons of oil spewing out daily, in addition to the uncontrollable fire and unfavorable weather conditions, the efforts to seal the oil well resulted in many defeats. The fire was huge, many viewed it as a fireball and it could also be viewed from 35 miles away from the incident site. From the thick black smoke, windy conditions, to the burning temperatures produced by the fire, the effort to address the oil spill in the early stages was deterred severely. The primary focus to address the oil spill was now directed towards suppressing the fire to be able to get close to the hot zone. The fire blazed for approximately two days before it was submerged by the ocean when the Deepwater Horizon sank on April 22, 2010. During the two days doing battle with the fire, gallons of oil was released creating an oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico. The oil slick stretched 5 miles across the surface of the ocean and within threatening distance to the shores. This oil slick complicated things, and added more problems to the situation at hand. As a result, the US Coast Guard decided to burn the oil slick to prevent it from reaching the shore to prevent more fires and further contamination (theguardian, 2010). However, the burning of the slick resulted in additional air pollution to what was already initiated from the explosion, keeping the parade of air pollution running for an extended period. Government and local officials realized that if the slick hit the beaches along the Gulf of Mexico, it would shut down everything, especially tourism. The oil slick was very likely to affect certain states along the U.S. coast whose economy is highly dependent on the incursion of tourists and tourism; but as the repercussions of the oil spill increased from one corner to the next, it was most likely to affect the decisions of tourist prior to visiting places like Mississippi and Florida which is normally clustered with tourists from all over the world during that particular season.
Upon the realization of the pending forecast of events set to impact the U.S. coast line, the mission to seal the oil well had to escalate to address the lingering devastation of the oil slick. In an attempt to get the result needed to stop the oil spill, Remote Operated Vehicles (ROV’s) were used to travel to the depths of the seabed in an effort to activate the Blowout Valve also known as the Blowout Preventer (BOP). The blowout preventer is a 450 ton valve located on the ocean floor that provides