Deep Water Horizon - Oil Spill Case Study

  • Created by: idavila
  • Created on: 10-06-19 12:18

Key Facts and Causes

Key Facts

  • April 20th 2010
  • 4.2 million gallons of oil released over 87 days
  • Gulf of Mexico
  • Sealed on July 15th 2010


  • Defective cement used to seal pipes prior to the explosion
  • Valve failure
  • Gas alarm failure
  • No emergency battery for blow-out preventer
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Environmental & Economic Effects


  • By November 2010 >8600 animals were reported dead
  • Spill area contained 8,300 species
  • 17% of dolphins not expected to survive
  • Since the spill, 500 turtles are stranded annually
  • Reefs 7 miles away began to die
  • Occured during peak breeding season for local wildlife
  • Microbes used to consume the oil reduced oxygen availability in the water
  • 20% of bluefin tuna stock depleted


  • US$2.4 billion fishing industry in Lousiana disrupted, estimated 7 years before fishing could resume
  • 26% of people visiting Louisian postponed or cancelled
  • 25% of people believed leisure activities (e.g. swamp tours) were cancelled
  • 34.4 million employees effected
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Social Effects & Management

Social Effects

  • 11 workers assumed dead
  • 17 injured
  • Corexit oil dispersant contained 57 harmful chemicals (e.g. carcinogenic)
  • Between June and September 2010, >700 people (from Mississippi, Louisian and Alabama) required health services relating to exposure of the oil spill
  • Recreational fishing banned

Managment Strategies and Impacts

  • 46,000 people deployed
  • 70 countries offered assistance; 8 accepted due to special equipment
  • BP spent US$14 billion on the cleanup which was conclude in 2014
  • Skimming surface oil
  • Burning surface oil→48% of the crude oil was methane
  • Dispersants→1.84 million gallons used→Studies suggest that dispersed oil is more toxic than fresh oil
  • Artificial barrier islands→Quickly washed away by currents
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Management Cont.

  • Beach cleaning
  • 10 days after the explosion a moratorium began on deep water drilling along the outer continental shelf for 6 months
  • BP set up a claims fund of US$20 billion; US$13.1 billion currently claimed
  • In July 2013, BP tries to halt some claim payments on the basis of fraud, which was overruled
  • Clean Air Act fine could cost BP US$13.8 billion
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