Deepwater Horizon oil spill
The oil slick as seen from space by NASA's Terra satellite on May 24, 2010
Location Gulf of Mexico near Mississippi River Delta, United States

28°44′12.01″N 88°23′13.78″W / 28.7366694°N 88.3871611°W / 28.7366694; -88.3871611Coordinates: 28°44′12.01″N 88°23′13.78″W / 28.7366694°N 88.3871611°W / 28.7366694; -88.3871611{{#coordinates:28|44|12.01|N|88|23|13.78|W|region:US-LA_type:event_scale:700000 |primary |name=

Date Spill date: 20 April – 15 July 2010
Well officially sealed: 19 September 2010
Cause Wellhead blowout
Casualties 11 dead
Operator Transocean under contract for BP[2]
Spill characteristics
Volume up to 4.9 million barrels (210,000,000 U.S. gallons; 780,000 cubic meters)[3]
Area 2,500 to 68,000 sq mi (6,500 to 180,000 km²)[4]

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill (also referred to as the BP oil spill, the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the BP oil disaster, or the Macondo blowout)[5][6][7] is an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico which flowed for three months in 2010. It is the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry.[8][9][10] The spill stemmed from a sea-floor oil gusher that resulted from the April 20, 2010, explosion of Deepwater Horizon, which drilled on the BP-operated Macondo Prospect. The explosion killed 11 men working on the platform and injured 17 others.[11] On July 15, 2010, the leak was stopped by capping the gushing wellhead,[12] after it had released about 4.9 million barrels (780,000 m3) of crude oil.[3] An estimated 53,000 barrels per day (8,400 m³/d) escaped from the well just before it was capped.[10] It is believed that the daily flow rate diminished over time, starting at about 62,000 barrels per day (9,900 m³/d) and decreasing as the reservoir of hydrocarbons feeding the gusher was gradually depleted.[10] On September 19, 2010, the relief well process was successfully completed, and the federal government declared the well "effectively dead".[13]

The spill caused extensive damage to marine and wildlife habitats and to the Gulf's fishing and tourism industries.[14][15] Skimmer ships, floating containment booms, anchored barriers, sand-filled barricades along shorelines, and dispersants were used in an attempt to protect hundreds of miles of beaches, wetlands, and estuaries from the spreading oil. Scientists also reported immense underwater plumes of dissolved oil not visible at the surface[16] as well as an 80-square-mile (210 km²) "kill zone" surrounding the blown well.[17] In late November 2010, 4,200 square miles (11,000 km²) of the Gulf were re-closed to shrimping after tar balls were found in shrimpers' nets.[18] The amount of Louisiana shoreline affected by oil grew from 287 miles (462 km) in July to 320 miles (510 km) in late November 2010.[19] In January 2011, an oil spill commissioner reported that tar balls continue to wash up, oil sheen trails are seen in the wake of fishing boats, wetlands marsh grass remains fouled and dying, and crude oil lies offshore in deep water and in fine silts and sands onshore.[20] A research team found oil on the bottom of the seafloor in late February 2011 that did not seem to be degrading.[21] On May 26,2011, the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality extended the state of emergency related to the oil spill.[22] By July 9, 2011, roughly 491 miles (790 kilometers) of coastline in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida remained contaminated by BP oil, according to a NOAA spokesperson.[23]

The U.S. Government has named BP as the responsible party, and officials have committed to holding the company accountable for all cleanup costs and other damage.[24] After its own internal probe, BP admitted that it made mistakes which led to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.[25] In June 2010 BP set up a $20 billion fund to compensate victims of the oil spill. To July 2011, the fund has paid $4.7 billion to 198,475 claimants. In all, the fund has nearly 1 million claims and continues to receive thousands of claims each week.[26]


  1. United States Environmental Protection Agency. Deepwater Horizon Response April 2010. Download KML Geographic Data.
  2. Power, Stephen; Gold, Russell; King, Neil Jr. (2010-06-08). "Staffing Levels on Deepwater Horizon Are Questioned". The Wall Street Journal (Dow Jones & Company). Retrieved 2010-06-08.: BP had contracted the rig from Transocean, which both owned and operated the rig.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Hoch, Maureen (2010-08-02). "New Estimate Puts Gulf Oil Leak at 205 Million Gallons". PBS NewsHour (MacNeil/Lehrer Productions). Retrieved 2010-12-19.
  4. Burdeau, Cain; Holbrook, Mohr (2010-07-27). "Expert: bp-gulf-oil-spill-68000-square-miles-of.html". SkyTruth. Associated Press. Retrieved 2010-05-13.
  5. "The Ongoing Administration-Wide Response to the Deepwater BP Oil Spill". 2010-05-05. Retrieved 2010-05-08.
  6. White, Stephen (2010-05-03). "BP's oil slickers; Bosses who earn millions claimed they could handle rig explosions". Daily Mirror: p. 14. Retrieved 2010-05-13.
  7. Guegel, A.; Wright, A.P.B.; Brenner, N. (2010-05-10). "BP 'army' battles Macondo flow". Upstream Online (NHST Media Group). Retrieved 2010-05-21.
  8. "BP leak the world's worst accidental oil spill". Telegraph. 2010-08-03. Retrieved 2010-08-15.
  9. Jervis, Rick; Levin, Alan (2010-05-27). "Obama, in Gulf, pledges to push on stopping leak". USA Today. Associated Press. Retrieved 2010-05-27.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Robertson, Campbell; Krauss, Clifford (2010-08-02). "Gulf Spill Is the Largest of Its Kind, Scientists Say". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). Retrieved 2010-08-12.
  11. Welch, William; Joyner, Chris (2010-05-25). "Memorial Services Honors 11 Dead Oil Rig Workers". USA Today. Retrieved 2010-05-26.
  12. "BP begins testing new oil well cap". Al Jazeera. 2010-07-15. Retrieved 2011-02-26.
  13. "Blown Out BP Well Finally Killed". WWL-TV. 2010-09-19. Retrieved 2010-09-19.
  14. Tangley, Laura (2010-04-30). "Bird Habitats Threatened by Oil Spill". National Wildlife (National Wildlife Federation). Retrieved 2010-05-03.
  15. Gulf Oil Slick Endangering Ecology (Flash streaming). CBS Broadcasting. 2010-04-30. Retrieved 2010-05-01.
  16. Gillis, Justin (2010-05-18). "Giant Plumes of Oil Forming Under the Gulf". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). Retrieved 2010-05-18.
  17. Gutman, Matt; Netter, Sarah (2010-12-03). "Submarine Dive Finds Oil, Dead Sea Life at Bottom of Gulf of Mexico". ABS News. Retrieved 2011-02-26.
  18. NOAA Closes 4200 Square Miles to Royal Red Shrimping | UNDATED. Retrieved on 2011-04-07.
  19. Bowermaster, Jon. (2010-11-29) Bowermaster's Adventures – Measuring the extent of oil spillage. Retrieved on 2011-04-07.
  20. "Foul waters, hard lessons from BP oil spill". CNN. 13 January 2011.
  21. Dykes, Brett Michael (2011-02-22). "Researchers find thick patches of crude still on Gulf floor". Yahoo News. Retrieved 2011-02-26.
  24. Staff (2010-05-01). "Guard mobilized, BP will foot bill". Politico Blog (Capitol News Company LLC). Retrieved 2010-05-01.
  25. Daniel Bates (30 August 2010). "BP accepts blame for Gulf of Mexico spill after leaked memo reveals engineer misread pressure reading". Retrieved 2010-09-05.