Oil spill
Overview
 
An oil spill is the release of a liquid
Liquid
Liquid is one of the three classical states of matter . Like a gas, a liquid is able to flow and take the shape of a container. Some liquids resist compression, while others can be compressed. Unlike a gas, a liquid does not disperse to fill every space of a container, and maintains a fairly...

 petroleum
Petroleum
Petroleum or crude oil is a naturally occurring, flammable liquid consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights and other liquid organic compounds, that are found in geologic formations beneath the Earth's surface. Petroleum is recovered mostly through oil drilling...

 hydrocarbon
Hydrocarbon
In organic chemistry, a hydrocarbon is an organic compound consisting entirely of hydrogen and carbon. Hydrocarbons from which one hydrogen atom has been removed are functional groups, called hydrocarbyls....

 into the environment, especially marine areas, due to human activity, and is a form of pollution. The term is mostly used to describe marine
Marine (ocean)
Marine is an umbrella term. As an adjective it is usually applicable to things relating to the sea or ocean, such as marine biology, marine ecology and marine geology...

 oil spills, where oil is released into the ocean
Ocean
An ocean is a major body of saline water, and a principal component of the hydrosphere. Approximately 71% of the Earth's surface is covered by ocean, a continuous body of water that is customarily divided into several principal oceans and smaller seas.More than half of this area is over 3,000...

 or coastal waters. Oil spills may be due to releases of crude oil from tankers
Oil tanker
An oil tanker, also known as a petroleum tanker, is a merchant ship designed for the bulk transport of oil. There are two basic types of oil tankers: the crude tanker and the product tanker. Crude tankers move large quantities of unrefined crude oil from its point of extraction to refineries...

, offshore platforms
Oil platform
An oil platform, also referred to as an offshore platform or, somewhat incorrectly, oil rig, is a lаrge structure with facilities to drill wells, to extract and process oil and natural gas, and to temporarily store product until it can be brought to shore for refining and marketing...

, drilling rig
Drilling rig
A drilling rig is a machine which creates holes or shafts in the ground. Drilling rigs can be massive structures housing equipment used to drill water wells, oil wells, or natural gas extraction wells, or they can be small enough to be moved manually by one person...

s and wells
Oil well
An oil well is a general term for any boring through the earth's surface that is designed to find and acquire petroleum oil hydrocarbons. Usually some natural gas is produced along with the oil. A well that is designed to produce mainly or only gas may be termed a gas well.-History:The earliest...

, as well as spills of refined petroleum products
Oil refinery
An oil refinery or petroleum refinery is an industrial process plant where crude oil is processed and refined into more useful petroleum products, such as gasoline, diesel fuel, asphalt base, heating oil, kerosene, and liquefied petroleum gas...

 (such as gasoline
Gasoline
Gasoline , or petrol , is a toxic, translucent, petroleum-derived liquid that is primarily used as a fuel in internal combustion engines. It consists mostly of organic compounds obtained by the fractional distillation of petroleum, enhanced with a variety of additives. Some gasolines also contain...

, 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
Waste oil
Waste oil is defined as any petroleum-based or synthetic oil that, through use or handling, has become unsuitable for its original purpose due to the presence of impurities or loss of original properties.-Differentiating between "waste oil" and "used oil":...

.
Encyclopedia
An oil spill is the release of a liquid
Liquid
Liquid is one of the three classical states of matter . Like a gas, a liquid is able to flow and take the shape of a container. Some liquids resist compression, while others can be compressed. Unlike a gas, a liquid does not disperse to fill every space of a container, and maintains a fairly...

 petroleum
Petroleum
Petroleum or crude oil is a naturally occurring, flammable liquid consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights and other liquid organic compounds, that are found in geologic formations beneath the Earth's surface. Petroleum is recovered mostly through oil drilling...

 hydrocarbon
Hydrocarbon
In organic chemistry, a hydrocarbon is an organic compound consisting entirely of hydrogen and carbon. Hydrocarbons from which one hydrogen atom has been removed are functional groups, called hydrocarbyls....

 into the environment, especially marine areas, due to human activity, and is a form of pollution. The term is mostly used to describe marine
Marine (ocean)
Marine is an umbrella term. As an adjective it is usually applicable to things relating to the sea or ocean, such as marine biology, marine ecology and marine geology...

 oil spills, where oil is released into the ocean
Ocean
An ocean is a major body of saline water, and a principal component of the hydrosphere. Approximately 71% of the Earth's surface is covered by ocean, a continuous body of water that is customarily divided into several principal oceans and smaller seas.More than half of this area is over 3,000...

 or coastal waters. Oil spills may be due to releases of crude oil from tankers
Oil tanker
An oil tanker, also known as a petroleum tanker, is a merchant ship designed for the bulk transport of oil. There are two basic types of oil tankers: the crude tanker and the product tanker. Crude tankers move large quantities of unrefined crude oil from its point of extraction to refineries...

, offshore platforms
Oil platform
An oil platform, also referred to as an offshore platform or, somewhat incorrectly, oil rig, is a lаrge structure with facilities to drill wells, to extract and process oil and natural gas, and to temporarily store product until it can be brought to shore for refining and marketing...

, drilling rig
Drilling rig
A drilling rig is a machine which creates holes or shafts in the ground. Drilling rigs can be massive structures housing equipment used to drill water wells, oil wells, or natural gas extraction wells, or they can be small enough to be moved manually by one person...

s and wells
Oil well
An oil well is a general term for any boring through the earth's surface that is designed to find and acquire petroleum oil hydrocarbons. Usually some natural gas is produced along with the oil. A well that is designed to produce mainly or only gas may be termed a gas well.-History:The earliest...

, as well as spills of refined petroleum products
Oil refinery
An oil refinery or petroleum refinery is an industrial process plant where crude oil is processed and refined into more useful petroleum products, such as gasoline, diesel fuel, asphalt base, heating oil, kerosene, and liquefied petroleum gas...

 (such as gasoline
Gasoline
Gasoline , or petrol , is a toxic, translucent, petroleum-derived liquid that is primarily used as a fuel in internal combustion engines. It consists mostly of organic compounds obtained by the fractional distillation of petroleum, enhanced with a variety of additives. Some gasolines also contain...

, 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
Waste oil
Waste oil is defined as any petroleum-based or synthetic oil that, through use or handling, has become unsuitable for its original purpose due to the presence of impurities or loss of original properties.-Differentiating between "waste oil" and "used oil":...

. Another significant route by which oil enters the marine environment is through natural oil seeps.

Oil spills can be controlled by chemical dispersion, combustion, mechanical containment, and/or adsorption. Spills may take weeks, months or even years to clean up.

Environmental effects

The oil penetrates into the structure of the plumage
Plumage
Plumage refers both to the layer of feathers that cover a bird and the pattern, colour, and arrangement of those feathers. The pattern and colours of plumage vary between species and subspecies and can also vary between different age classes, sexes, and season. Within species there can also be a...

 of birds and animals, reducing its insulating ability, thus making the birds more vulnerable to temperature fluctuations and much less buoyant
Buoyancy
In physics, buoyancy is a force exerted by a fluid that opposes an object's weight. In a column of fluid, pressure increases with depth as a result of the weight of the overlying fluid. Thus a column of fluid, or an object submerged in the fluid, experiences greater pressure at the bottom of the...

 in the water. It also impairs or disables birds' flight abilities to forage and escape from predators. As they attempt to preen, birds typically ingest oil that covers their feathers, causing kidney
Kidney
The kidneys, organs with several functions, serve essential regulatory roles in most animals, including vertebrates and some invertebrates. They are essential in the urinary system and also serve homeostatic functions such as the regulation of electrolytes, maintenance of acid–base balance, and...

 damage, altered liver
Liver
The liver is a vital organ present in vertebrates and some other animals. It has a wide range of functions, including detoxification, protein synthesis, and production of biochemicals necessary for digestion...

 function, and digestive tract irritation. This and the limited foraging ability quickly causes dehydration
Dehydration
In physiology and medicine, dehydration is defined as the excessive loss of body fluid. It is literally the removal of water from an object; however, in physiological terms, it entails a deficiency of fluid within an organism...

 and metabolic
Metabolism
Metabolism is the set of chemical reactions that happen in the cells of living organisms to sustain life. These processes allow organisms to grow and reproduce, maintain their structures, and respond to their environments. Metabolism is usually divided into two categories...

 imbalances. Hormonal balance alteration including changes in luteinizing protein can also result in some birds exposed to petroleum.

Most birds affected by an oil spill die unless there is human intervention. Some studies have suggested that, even after cleaning, less than 1% of oil soaked birds survive., though it can also exceed 90% as in the case of the Treasure oil spill.
Heavily furred exposed to oil spills are affected in similar ways as seabirds. Oil coats the fur of Sea otters and seals
Pinniped
Pinnipeds or fin-footed mammals are a widely distributed and diverse group of semiaquatic marine mammals comprising the families Odobenidae , Otariidae , and Phocidae .-Overview: Pinnipeds are typically sleek-bodied and barrel-shaped...

, reducing its insulation abilities and leading to body temperature fluctuations and hypothermia
Hypothermia
Hypothermia is a condition in which core temperature drops below the required temperature for normal metabolism and body functions which is defined as . Body temperature is usually maintained near a constant level of through biologic homeostasis or thermoregulation...

. Ingestion of the oil causes dehydration and impaired digestions. Because oil floats on top of water, less sunlight penetrates into the water, limiting the photosynthesis
Photosynthesis
Photosynthesis is a chemical process that converts carbon dioxide into organic compounds, especially sugars, using the energy from sunlight. Photosynthesis occurs in plants, algae, and many species of bacteria, but not in archaea. Photosynthetic organisms are called photoautotrophs, since they can...

 of marine plants and phytoplankton
Phytoplankton
Phytoplankton are the autotrophic component of the plankton community. The name comes from the Greek words φυτόν , meaning "plant", and πλαγκτός , meaning "wanderer" or "drifter". Most phytoplankton are too small to be individually seen with the unaided eye...

. This, as well as decreasing the fauna populations, affects the food chain in the ecosystem.
There are three kinds of oil-consuming bacteria. Sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB) and acid-producing bacteria are anaerobic
Anaerobic organism
An anaerobic organism or anaerobe is any organism that does not require oxygen for growth. It could possibly react negatively and may even die if oxygen is present...

, 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. Oil may also cause the death of an animal by entering the animal’s lungs or liver. The animal will then be poisoned by the oil. Oil also can kill an animal by blinding it, and leaving it defenseless.

Cleanup and recovery

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.

Methods for cleaning up include:
  • Bioremediation
    Bioremediation
    Bioremediation is the use of microorganism metabolism to remove pollutants. Technologies can be generally classified as in situ or ex situ. In situ bioremediation involves treating the contaminated material at the site, while ex situ involves the removal of the contaminated material to be treated...

    : use of microorganism
    Microorganism
    A microorganism or microbe is a microscopic organism that comprises either a single cell , cell clusters, or no cell at all...

    s or biological agents to break down or remove oil.
  • 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.
  • Controlled burning can effectively reduce the amount of oil in water, if done properly. But it can only be done in low wind
    Wind
    Wind is the flow of gases on a large scale. On Earth, wind consists of the bulk movement of air. In outer space, solar wind is the movement of gases or charged particles from the sun through space, while planetary wind is the outgassing of light chemical elements from a planet's atmosphere into space...

    , and can cause air pollution
    Air pollution
    Air pollution is the introduction of chemicals, particulate matter, or biological materials that cause harm or discomfort to humans or other living organisms, or cause damage to the natural environment or built environment, into the atmosphere....

    .

  • Dispersant
    Dispersant
    A dispersant or a dispersing agent or a plasticizer or a superplasticizer 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...

    s act as detergent
    Detergent
    A detergent is a surfactant or a mixture of surfactants with "cleaning properties in dilute solutions." In common usage, "detergent" refers to alkylbenzenesulfonates, a family of compounds that are similar to soap but are less affected by hard water...

    s, clustering around oil globules and allowing them to be carried away in the water. This improves the surface aesthetically, and mobilizes the oil. Smaller oil droplets, scattered by currents, may cause less harm and may degrade more easily. But the dispersed oil droplets infiltrate into deeper water and can lethally contaminate coral
    Coral
    Corals are marine animals in class Anthozoa of phylum Cnidaria typically living in compact colonies of many identical individual "polyps". The group includes the important reef builders that inhabit tropical oceans and secrete calcium carbonate to form a hard skeleton.A coral "head" is a colony of...

    . Recent research indicates that some dispersants are toxic to corals.
  • 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.
  • Dredging: for oils dispersed with detergents and other oils denser than water.
  • Skimming
    Skimmer (machine)
    An oil skimmer is a machine that separates a liquid from particles floating on it or from another liquid. A common application is removing oil floating on water. These technologies are commonly used for oil spill remediation but are also commonly found in industry...

    : Requires calm waters
  • Solidifying: Solidifiers are composed of dry hydrophobic polymers that both adsorb and absorb. They clean up oil spills by changing the physical state of spilled oil from liquid to a semi-solid or a rubber-like material that floats on water. 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, Methyl Ethyl, Acetone and Naphtha. The reaction time for solidification of oil is controlled by the surf area or size of the polymer as well as the viscosity of the oil. Some solidifier product manufactures claim the solidified oil can be 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
    C.I.Agent Solutions
    C.I.Agent Solutions is a Louisville, Kentucky based company that specializes in environmental protection solutions. The company develops products to clean up hydrocarbon spills on land and water...

     of Louisville, Kentucky
    Louisville, Kentucky
    Louisville is the largest city in the U.S. state of Kentucky, and the county seat of Jefferson County. Since 2003, the city's borders have been coterminous with those of the county because of a city-county merger. The city's population at the 2010 census was 741,096...

    ) is being used by BP
    BP
    BP p.l.c. is a global oil and gas company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It is the third-largest energy company and fourth-largest company in the world measured by revenues and one of the six oil and gas "supermajors"...

     in granular form as well as in Marine and Sheen Booms on Dauphin Island, AL and Fort Morgan, MS to aid in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill
    Deepwater Horizon oil spill
    The Deepwater Horizon oil spill is an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico which flowed unabated for three months in 2010, and continues to leak fresh oil. It is the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry...

     cleanup.
  • Vacuum and centrifuge
    Centrifuge
    A centrifuge is a piece of equipment, generally driven by an electric motor , that puts an object in rotation around a fixed axis, applying a force perpendicular to the axis...

    : 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.


Equipment used includes:
  • Booms
    Boom (containment)
    A containment boom is a "temporary floating barrier used to contain an oil spill. Booms are used to reduce the possibility of polluting shorelines and other resources, and to help make recovery easier. Booms help to concentrate oil in thicker surface layers so that skimmers, vacuums, or other...

    : large floating barriers that round up oil and lift the oil off the water
  • Skimmers
    Skimmer (machine)
    An oil skimmer is a machine that separates a liquid from particles floating on it or from another liquid. A common application is removing oil floating on water. These technologies are commonly used for oil spill remediation but are also commonly found in industry...

    : 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
  • Shovel
    Shovel
    A shovel is a tool for digging, lifting, and moving bulk materials, such as soil, coal, gravel, snow, sand, or ore. Shovels are extremely common tools that are used extensively in agriculture, construction, and gardening....

    s and other road equipments: typically used to clean up oil on beaches

Prevention

  • Secondary containment - methods to prevent releases of oil or hydrocarbons into environment.
  • Oil Spill Prevention Containment and Countermeasures (SPCC) program by the United States
    United States
    The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

     Environmental Protection Agency
    United States Environmental Protection Agency
    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is an agency of the federal government of the United States charged with protecting human health and the environment, by writing and enforcing regulations based on laws passed by Congress...

    .
  • Double-hulling - build double hull
    Double hull
    A double hull is a ship hull design and construction method invented by Leonardo da Vinci where the bottom and sides of the ship have two complete layers of watertight hull surface: one outer layer forming the normal hull of the ship, and a second inner hull which is some distance inboard,...

    s 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.

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. 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.

Shoreline type

Shoreline type is classified by rank depending on how easy the garet would be to clean up, how long the oil would persist, and how sensitive the shoreline is. The floating oil slicks put the shoreline at particular risk when they eventually come ashore, covering the substrate
Substrate (marine biology)
Stream substrate is the material that rests at the bottom of a stream. There are several classification guides. One is:*Mud – silt and clay.*Sand – Particles between 0.06 and 2 mm in diameter.*Granule – Between 2 and 4 mm in diameter....

 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
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration , pronounced , like "noah", is a scientific agency within the United States Department of Commerce focused on the conditions of the oceans and the atmosphere...

 extended ESI maps to lakes, rivers, and estuary shoreline types. 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. 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. 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.

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. 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.
Film thickness Quantity spread
Appearance in 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 0.00004 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. 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
Carbazole
Carbazole is an aromatic heterocyclic organic compound. It has a tricyclic structure, consisting of two six-membered benzene ring fused on either side of a five-membered nitrogen-containing ring...

, quinoline
Quinoline
Quinoline is a heterocyclic aromatic organic compound. It has the formula C9H7N and is a colourless hygroscopic liquid with a strong odour. Aged samples, if exposed to light, become yellow and later brown...

, and pyridine
Pyridine
Pyridine is a basic heterocyclic organic compound with the chemical formula C5H5N. It is structurally related to benzene, with one C-H group replaced by a nitrogen atom...

, 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.

Largest oil spills

Oil spills of over 100,000 tons or 30 million US gallons, ordered by ton
Ton
The ton is a unit of measure. It has a long history and has acquired a number of meanings and uses over the years. It is used principally as a unit of weight, and as a unit of volume. It can also be used as a measure of energy, for truck classification, or as a colloquial term.It is derived from...

s
Spill / Tanker Location Date *Tons of crude oil
(thousands)
Barrels
(thousands)
US Gallons
(thousands)
References
Kuwaiti oil fires
Kuwaiti oil fires
The Kuwaiti oil fires were caused by Iraqi military forces setting fire to 700 oil wells as part of a scorched earth policy while retreating from Kuwait in 1991 after invading the country but being driven out by Coalition military forces...

 
- 136,000-205,000 1,000,000-1,500,000 42,000,000-63,000,000
Kuwaiti oil lakes  - 3,409-6,818 25,000-50,000 1,050,000-2,100,000
Lakeview Gusher
Lakeview Gusher
Lakeview Gusher Number One was an immense out-of-control pressurized oil well in the Midway-Sunset Oil Field in Kern County, California, resulting in what is the largest single oil spill in history, lasting 18 months and releasing of crude oil. In what was one of the largest oil reserves in...

, Kern County
Kern County, California
Spreading across the southern end of the California Central Valley, Kern County is the fifth-largest county by population in California. Its economy is heavily linked to agriculture and to petroleum extraction, and there is a strong aviation and space presence. Politically, it has generally...

, California
1,200 9,000 378,000
Gulf War oil spill
Gulf War oil spill
The Gulf War oil spill was one of the largest oil spills in history, resulting from the Gulf War in 1991. The apparent strategic goal was to foil a potential landing by US Marines. It also made commandeering oil reserves difficult for US forces....

 
, Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf
The Persian Gulf, in Southwest Asia, is an extension of the Indian Ocean located between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula.The Persian Gulf was the focus of the 1980–1988 Iran-Iraq War, in which each side attacked the other's oil tankers...

 and Kuwait
Kuwait
The State of Kuwait is a sovereign Arab state situated in the north-east of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south at Khafji, and Iraq to the north at Basra. It lies on the north-western shore of the Persian Gulf. The name Kuwait is derived from the...

- 818–1,091 6,000–8,000 252,000–336,000
Deepwater Horizon
Deepwater Horizon oil spill
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill is an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico which flowed unabated for three months in 2010, and continues to leak fresh oil. It is the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry...

, Gulf of Mexico
Gulf of Mexico
The Gulf of Mexico is a partially landlocked ocean basin largely surrounded by the North American continent and the island of Cuba. It is bounded on the northeast, north and northwest by the Gulf Coast of the United States, on the southwest and south by Mexico, and on the southeast by Cuba. In...

560-585 4,100-4,900 172,000-180,000
Ixtoc I , Gulf of Mexico
Gulf of Mexico
The Gulf of Mexico is a partially landlocked ocean basin largely surrounded by the North American continent and the island of Cuba. It is bounded on the northeast, north and northwest by the Gulf Coast of the United States, on the southwest and south by Mexico, and on the southeast by Cuba. In...

454–480 3,329–3,520 139,818–147,840
Atlantic Empress
Atlantic Empress
The Atlantic Empress was a Greek oil tanker that was involved in two large oil spills. The spills together are the fifth largest oil spill on record and the largest ship-based spill....

 / Aegean Captain
287 2,105 88,396
Fergana Valley 285 2,090 87,780
Nowruz Field Platform
Nowruz (oil field)
The Nowruz oil field, in the Persian Gulf, Iran, was the site of several 1983 oil spills.One spill was initially caused by a tanker hitting a platform. In March, 1983, the platform was attacked by Iraqi helicopters and the spill caught fire. The Iran–Iraq War prevented technicians from capping the...

, Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf
The Persian Gulf, in Southwest Asia, is an extension of the Indian Ocean located between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula.The Persian Gulf was the focus of the 1980–1988 Iran-Iraq War, in which each side attacked the other's oil tankers...

260 1,907 80,080
ABT Summer , 700 nmi (1,296.4 km) offshore 260 1,907 80,080
Castillo de Bellver  South Africa South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

, Saldanha Bay
Saldanha Bay
Saldanha Bay is a natural harbour on the south-western coast of South Africa, north west of Cape Town. The town that developed on the northern shore of the bay, also called Saldanha, was incorporated with five other towns into the Saldanha Bay Local Municipality in 2000. The current population of...

252 1,848 77,616
Amoco Cadiz
Amoco Cadiz
Amoco Cadiz was a very large crude carrier , owned by Amoco, that ran aground on Portsall Rocks, from the coast of Brittany, France, on 16 March 1978, and ultimately split in three and sank, all together resulting in the largest oil spill of its kind in history to that date.-Oil spill:Amoco Cadiz...

, Brittany
Brittany
Brittany is a cultural and administrative region in the north-west of France. Previously a kingdom and then a duchy, Brittany was united to the Kingdom of France in 1532 as a province. Brittany has also been referred to as Less, Lesser or Little Britain...

223 1,635 68,684
MT Haven , Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

 near Genoa
Genoa
Genoa |Ligurian]] Zena ; Latin and, archaically, English Genua) is a city and an important seaport in northern Italy, the capital of the Province of Genoa and of the region of Liguria....

144 1,056 44,352
Odyssey
Odyssey (tanker)
Odyssey, which previously went by the name Oriental Phoenix, was an oil tanker in operation from 1971 to November 10, 1988, when an explosion caused it to sink in the North Atlantic off the coast of Canada. The resulting spill remains one of the largest oil spills in world history...

, 700 nmi (1,296.4 km) off Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the most populous province in Atlantic Canada. The name of the province is Latin for "New Scotland," but "Nova Scotia" is the recognized, English-language name of the province. The provincial capital is Halifax. Nova Scotia is the...

132 968 40,656
Sea Star
Sea Star (tanker)
Sea Star was a supertanker that spilled some 115,000 tons of crude oil into the Gulf of Oman on December 19, 1972, after colliding with the Brazilian tanker Horta Barbosa. After the collision both vessels caught fire and were abandoned by their crews...

, Gulf of Oman
Gulf of Oman
The Gulf of Oman or Sea of Oman is a strait that connects the Arabian Sea with the Strait of Hormuz, which then runs to the Persian Gulf. It is generally included as a branch of the Persian Gulf, not as an arm of the Arabian Sea. On the north coast is Pakistan and Iran...

115 843 35,420
Irenes Serenade , Pylos
Pylos
Pylos , historically known under its Italian name Navarino, is a town and a former municipality in Messenia, Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Pylos-Nestoras, of which it is the seat and a municipal unit. It was the capital of the former...

100 733 30,800
Urquiola , A Coruña
A Coruña
A Coruña or La Coruña is a city and municipality of Galicia, Spain. It is the second-largest city in the autonomous community and seventeenth overall in the country...

100 733 30,800
Torrey Canyon
Torrey Canyon
The Torrey Canyon was a supertanker capable of carrying a cargo of 120,000 tons of crude oil, which was shipwrecked off the western coast of Cornwall, England in March 1967 causing an environmental disaster...

, Isles of Scilly
Isles of Scilly
The Isles of Scilly form an archipelago off the southwestern tip of the Cornish peninsula of Great Britain. The islands have had a unitary authority council since 1890, and are separate from the Cornwall unitary authority, but some services are combined with Cornwall and the islands are still part...

80–119 587–873 24,654–36,666
Greenpoint oil spill
Greenpoint oil spill
The Greenpoint oil spill is one of the largest oil spills ever recorded in the United States. Located around Newtown Creek in the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York City, between of oil and petroleum products have leaked into the soil from crude oil processing facilities over a period...

, Brooklyn
Greenpoint, Brooklyn
Greenpoint is the northernmost neighborhood in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. It is bordered on the southwest by Williamsburg at the Bushwick inlet, on the southeast by the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and East Williamsburg, on the north by Newtown Creek and Long Island City, Queens at the...

, New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

55– 97 400–710 17,000–30,000

One ton of crude oil is roughly equal to 308 US gallons or 7.33 barrels approx.; 1 oil barrel is equal to 35 imperial or 42 US gallons.

Estimates for the amount of oil burned in the Kuwaiti oil fires range from 500000000 barrels (79,493,647,500 l) to nearly 2000000000 barrels (317,974,590,000 l). 732 wells were set ablaze, while many others were severely damaged and gushed uncontrolled for several months. The fires alone were estimated to consume approximately 6000000 barrels (953,923,770 l) of oil per day at their peak. However, it is difficult to find reliable sources for the total amount of oil burned. The range of 1000000000 barrels (158,987,295,000 l) to 1500000000 barrels (238,480,942,500 l) given here represents frequently-cited figures, but better sources are needed.

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 50000000 barrels (7,949,364,750 l) 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.

Estimates for the Gulf War oil spill range from 4,000,000 to 11000000 barrels (1,748,860,245 l). The figure of 6,000,000 to 8000000 barrels (1,271,898,360 l) 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
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

 in 2010. 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 8000000 barrels (1,271,898,360 l).

See also

  • Environmental issues with petroleum
    Environmental issues with petroleum
    The environmental impact of petroleum is often negative because it is toxic to almost all forms of life. The possibility of climate change exists...

  • Environmental issues with shipping
  • List of oil spills
  • LNG spill
    LNG spill
    A liquefied natural gas spill can happen during an accident or an intentional act such as terrorism. LNG is normally stored and transported in liquid form at a temperature of approximately -161 degrees Celsius. If this supercooled liquid is released from a storage facility, pipeline, or LNG...

  • Low-temperature thermal desorption
    Low-temperature thermal desorption
    Low-temperature thermal desorption , also known as low-temperature thermal volatilization, thermal stripping, and soil roasting, is an ex-situ remedial technology that uses heat to physically separate petroleum hydrocarbons from excavated soils...


  • National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan
    National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan
    The National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan, more commonly called the National Contingency Plan or NCP, is the United States federal government's blueprint for responding to oil spills and hazardous substance releases...

  • Ohmsett
    Ohmsett
    Ohmsett is the National Oil Spill Response Test Facility, located in Leonardo, New Jersey. The name Ohmsett is an acronym for "Oil and Hazardous Materials Simulated Environmental Test Tank"....

     (Oil and Hazardous Materials Simulated Environmental Test Tank)
  • Oil Pollution Act of 1990
    Oil Pollution Act of 1990
    The Oil Pollution Act was passed by the 101st United States Congress, and signed by President George H. W. Bush, to mitigate and prevent civil liability for future oil spills off the coast of the United States....

     (in the US)
  • Oil well
    Oil well
    An oil well is a general term for any boring through the earth's surface that is designed to find and acquire petroleum oil hydrocarbons. Usually some natural gas is produced along with the oil. A well that is designed to produce mainly or only gas may be termed a gas well.-History:The earliest...

  • Penguin sweater
    Penguin sweater
    Penguin sweaters, also known as penguin jumpers, are sweaters which are knitted for penguins that have been caught in oil slicks. When an oil spill affects penguins, they are dressed in knitted sweaters to stop them preening their feathers and to keep them warm, since the spilled oil destroys their...


  • Project Deep Spill
    Project Deep Spill
    Project Deep Spill was the first intentional deepwater oil spill, in order to study how crude oil behaved in-depth. A Joint Industry Project comprising 23 oil companies and the Minerals Management Service performed a sea trial in late June 2000 in the Helland Hansen region of the Norwegian Sea...

    , the first intentional deepwater oil and gas spill
  • Pseudomonas putida
    Pseudomonas putida
    Pseudomonas putida is a gram-negative rod-shaped saprotrophic soil bacterium. Based on 16S rRNA analysis, P. putida has been placed in the P. putida group, to which it lends its name....

     (used for degrading oil)
  • S-200 (fertilizer)
    S-200 (fertilizer)
    S-200 is a bioremediation product used to clean up oil spills. It is an oleophilic nitrogen-phosphorus fertilizer, sometimes known as a super nutrient, that promotes the growth of micro-organisms that degrade hydrocarbons .S-200 is identified as a bioremediation accelerator and as such, does not...

  • Spill containment
    Spill containment
    Spill containment is where spills of chemicals, oils, sewage etc are contained within a barrier or drainage system rather than being absorbed at the surface. One method is to use an inflatable stopper or pneumatic bladder which is inserted into the outflow of a drainage system to create a...

  • Tarball
    Tarball (oil)
    A tarball is a blob of petroleum which has been weathered after floating in the ocean. Tarballs are an aquatic pollutant in most environments, although they can occur naturally and as such are not always associated with oil spills....



Further reading

  • The World Almanac and Book of Facts, 2004
  • Oil Spill Case Histories 1967-1991, NOAA/Hazardous Materials and Response Division, Seattle WA, 1992
  • Nelson-Smith, Oil Pollution and Marine Ecology, Elek Scientific, London, 1972; Plenum, New York, 1973
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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