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Cleaning the beach at Cancun, Gulf of Mexico, sargussum crisis



What is brown and stinks? G7 climate policies - the proof of which is the sargassum state of emergency






The 2022 sargassum season began at the beginning of spring due to a rise in sea temperature, which accelerates the reproduction of the seaweed. As the days get warmer, the presence of sargassum is expected to increase. Beaches with the highest seaweed count include Playa del Carmen, Tulum, and some points between Cancun and Puerto Morelos.

The Mexican government and hotels in the Yucatan Peninsula have stepped up their efforts to tackle it, however, the majority of low-budget hotels and hostels do not have the means to clean their beaches on a daily basis.

If you’re keen to avoid sargassum on your Mexico visit, make sure to stay in a hotel that has staff constantly monitoring the ever-changing situation and has the means to tackle the issue.





Mexican white sand beaches



Pristine white sand beach






Rear Admiral César Gustavo Ramírez Torralba, Coordinator of the Sargassum Attention Strategy and Secretary of the Navy, has reported that in the coming days, a barrier will be stationed in front of Puerto Morelos.

In the first week of April the sea barrier will be installed in Playa del Carmen, and again in Tulum in the second week of April. In Mahahual, progress stands at 500 meters of installation, with completion expected this week. Rear Admiral López added that sargassum collection vessels will also be used at sea to catch sargassum before it reaches the coast.

The Governor of the state of Quintana Roo, home to the Riviera Maya, has commented “We know this is a natural phenomenon that generates adverse conditions, but we will be working with the Secretary of the Navy, the municipalities, hotels and the private initiative with our best efforts to keep the beaches clean so that they continue to be a great tourist attraction,”.

According to Rear Admiral César Gustavo Ramírez Torralba, Coordinator of the Sargassum Attention Strategy and Secretary of the Navy, Cancun, Riviera Maya region forecasting less Sargassum Seaweed in 2021.

Torralba announced that 9,320 meters (30,578 feet) of containment barriers were installed just off the beaches of Puerto Morelos, Solidaridad, Tulum, and Mahahual and Xcalak and 11 vessels will be dedicated to the purpose in shallow waters off the coasts of Benito Juárez (Cancún), Puerto Morelos, Solidaridad (Playa del Carmen), Tulum and Othón P. Blanco (Mahahual, Xcalak).

Additionally, this year (2021), an ocean vessel will be incorporated that will allow collection from the sea in various areas, depending on the largest sargassum concentrations.









Since 2011, sargassum has been strangling some of Mexico’s best-loved beaches in increasingly large amounts, causing not just a stink and an eyesore but damaging coral reefs and marine ecosystems.

Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula is particularly exposed, but the seaweed has been clogging up beaches across the Caribbean and Florida in a man-made catastrophe of rising proportions. But the arrival of an island of seaweed about the size of Jamaica is a worrying escalation. 

“This is the biggest environmental disaster for Mexico — these are some of the most biodiverse areas in the world,” said Esteban Amaro, a hydrobiologist monitoring the seaweed.

Stephen Leatherman, a beach expert at Florida International University, agreed. “There’s been nothing like this in the past, to my knowledge. This much sargassum is a disaster,” he said.

“If we don’t do something about it soon, the damage will become irreversible . . . in years, not decades,” added Brigitta van Tussenbroek of the seagrass laboratory at Unam university in Mexico City.

Sargassum has been observed in the Atlantic since the time of the conquistadores, but massive deforestation in the Amazon to clear land for farming, and intensive use of fertilisers, have pumped nitrogen into the oceans, boosting algae growth. Helped by warmer ocean temperatures, scientists say, the amount of seaweed has exploded.

At sea, sargassum is alive and provides a habitat for turtles and fish. But once it comes ashore and dies, it produces toxic gases and leaches acid and heavy metals back into the sea, altering the water’s pH and depriving the oceans of oxygen. That has led to the spread of white syndrome, an aggressive coral disease, Mr Amaro said. 

Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Mexico’s president, has mobilised the Mexican marine corps to combat the algae with measures such as seaweed-catching ships and barriers. He is budgeting $2.7m to tackle the problem.

But this is less than a tenth of what hoteliers on the affected coast expect to pay for cleaning beaches this year. The president — who has already angered the $23bn tourism industry by scrapping the tourist board in an austerity drive — has also incensed local businesses by saying the seaweed’s impact on the region — which accounts for half of tourism’s 8.7 per cent contribution to GDP — was “not very serious”.

As the summer holiday season starts, public opinion is also at odds with Mr López Obrador: half of respondents in a survey by pollster Mitofsky saw sargassum as a serious, national problem. Tourism is the third biggest revenue earner behind car manufacturing and remittances. 

Hoteliers fear that, if Mexico fails to combat the seaweed, tourists will choose resorts elsewhere in the Caribbean, such as the Dominican Republic, which has successfully combated the algae with sea barriers. 

At Akumal bay, near Tulum, tourists enjoy cocktails overlooking a clean beach and clear waters — but achieving that is an endless battle that can cost each hotel 1m pesos ($52,000) a month, said David Ortiz Mena, president of the Tulum Hotel Association. 

“Hotels are investing unsustainable sums in fighting sargassum,” he added. “Some nights we remove 400 cubic metres . . . a lot of people are overwhelmed.”

Along Tulum’s beachfront, some hoteliers are considering closing because the beach weddings — a mainstay of their trade — have dried up.

Francesca Pesaresi, owner of the María del Mar hotel, which has nine luxury suites, said the situation was “pretty disastrous”. Advance bookings had fallen by 80 per cent and overall occupancy was a quarter down on last year.

“We pay 3 per cent tourist tax and tourists pay a departure tax — if just 1 per cent of this were used to fight sargassum, it would be a huge help,” she said. “Sargassum is going to be here forever. It’s killing our seas and coral.”

Hoteliers on the Riviera Maya, which stretches 120km from Puerto Morelos to Punta Allen, have lost an estimated $12m this year from cancellations related to sargassum, according to industry data. But tourists already in Mexico were putting on a brave face. 

“We knew about it, we read about it, but it’s very different to actually be here seeing it, smelling it,” said Ben Brenson, an aircraft ground worker from Chicago who acknowledged that, had he not been attending a wedding, “we probably would have chosen a different destination”. 

“I guess this is what we’re doing to nature,” he said. “It’s our own doing and people don’t realise it.”






Map of the Gulf of Mexico



Map of the Gulf of Mexico






The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement has tightened regulations for offshore operators ever since the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion that claimed the lives of 11 men and caused the largest man-made oil spill in history after dumping 3 million barrels of oil into the Gulf.

Still, environmental advocates have criticized Big Oil’s insistence that offshore drilling can be done safely and have urged for the practice to stop.

“The last thing the Gulf of Mexico needs is another oil spill,” Vicky Wyatt, a Greenpeace campaigner, told EcoWatch. “The oil and gas industry’s business-as-usual mentality devastates communities, the environment, and our climate. Make no mistake, the more fossil fuel infrastructure we have, the more spills and leaks we’ll see. This terrible situation must come to an end. President Obama can put these leaks, spills, and climate disasters behind us by stopping new leases in the Gulf and Arctic. It’s past time to keep it in the ground for good.”

The Louisiana Bucket Brigade noted in a press release this morning that the federal National Response Center clocks “thousands” of oil industry accidents in the Gulf of Mexico every year.

“What we usually see in oil industry accidents like this is a gross understatement of the amount release and an immediate assurance that everything is under control, even if it’s not,” Anne Rolfes, Louisiana Bucket Brigade founding director, said. “This spill shows why there is a new and vibrant movement in the Gulf of Mexico for no new drilling.”

The Louisiana Bucket Brigade, which aims to end petrochemical pollution in the Pelican State and a transition to renewable energy, said that on the same day as Shell’s accident, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) held a hearing focused on the environmental impact of oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. During the hearing, Gulf residents brought in tar balls found just last month at Elmer’s Island in Grand Isle, Louisiana as evidence that BOEM’s environmental impact assessment is inadequate, the group said.

Gulf residents opposed to drilling are calling on President Obama not to open additional leases in the next Five Year Plan for the Gulf of Mexico.

“This latest offshore oil disaster once again demonstrates the inherent dangers of fossil fuels, and the irresponsibility of allowing new oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico even as these spills continue to happen,” Marc Yaggi, executive director of Waterkeeper Alliance, said. “We have a decade-long, ongoing oil spill that the government won’t force Taylor Energy to fix and the Gulf is struggling from the impacts of Deepwater Horizon. The Gulf must no longer be treated as a sacrificial zone. It is time that the federal government recognized that for the health of our ocean, coasts and climate, there must be no further offshore oil leasing.”




Gulf of Mexico oil pollution



NBC NEWS MAY 12 2016 - Almost 90,000 gallons of crude oil gushed from a Shell oil facility into the Gulf of Mexico off the Louisiana coast on Thursday, leaving a 13 x 2 mile sheen of oil on the waves according to federal authorities.

The Coast Guard said that the spill had been contained and that two companies were being contracted to begin cleanup operations. The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, which is part of the U.S. Interior Department, said Shell Offshore Inc. reported that production from all wells that flow to its Brutus platform, about 90 miles south of Timbalier Island, Louisiana, had been shut off. No injuries or evacuations were reported, the safety bureau said.

Shell said Thursday night that a company helicopter spotted the sheen near its Glider subsea system at the Brutus platform. No drilling occurs at the site, which is an underwater pipe system that connects to a central hub. Shell is quoted as saying: "No release is acceptable, and safety remains our priority as we respond to this incident." By Alex Johnson


TELEGRAPH 12 APRIL 2012 - Shares in Royal Dutch Shell had dropped 4pc in London in early trading after the company said it had send a spill response vessel and asked for aerial surveillance to investigate the oil sheen "out of prudent caution", but by mid-afternoon they were down just 0.9pc. They closed down just 0.5pc at £21.74.

Traders said the knee-jerk response on investors reflected concerns that any possible Gulf of Mexco spill might be compared to that which resulted from BP's Deepwater Horizon rig disaster in 2010 - the worst offshore oil spill in US history. Shell said in an initial statement that the source of the one-mile by 10-mile sheen is unknown and there was no current indication that it originates from wells in either its Mars or Ursa projects. It said its "priority is to respond proactively, safely, and in close coordination with regulatory agencies".

However, in a statement on Thursday afternoon, Shell it had it inspected its operations in the area and their was "no sign of leaks" or "well control issues" associated with it drilling operations. Bill Tanner, a spokesman, said in an interview with Bloomberg: "This was an orphan sheen. We continue to look to identify the source of the sheen. We have a high degree of confidence that the sheen did not originate from Shell operations.” 




16 FEBRUARY 2016


Judge Carl J. Barbier of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana granted summary judgment in favor of the various commercial oil spill response companies involved in the federal government’s response to the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.






DOLPHIN DEATHS - Study finds link with unusual frequency of deaths.





A newly released study funded by the Deepwater Horizon National Resource Damage Assessment, which includes the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, BP (the oil company responsible for the spill and others) details the disastrous impact for the spill on the health and mortality of dolphins in the Gulf.

The study, with the very scientific name of Adrenal Gland and Lung Lesions in Gulf of Mexico Common Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) Found Dead following the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, analyzes what it calls “an unusual mortality event (UME)” among dolphins off the coast of Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi between February 2010 and 2014. More than 1,300 dolphins are estimated to have died.

“The Deepwater Horizon oil spill was proposed as a contributing cause of adrenal disease, lung disease and poor health in live dolphins examined during 2011 in Barataria Bay, Louisiana,” said the study. It also analyzed dead dolphin carcasses stranded in the three states between June 2010 and December 2012 and compared the analyses to dead, stranded dolphins found outside the area or prior to the oil spill to come to the conclusion that the die-off was unprecedented and the result of an adrenal gland condition never previously seen in dolphins in the region that made them susceptible to pneumonia.

“The rare, life-threatening and chronic adrenal gland and lung diseases identified in stranded UME dolphins are consistent with exposure to petroleum compounds as seen in other mammals,” the study concluded. “Exposure of dolphins to elevated petroleum compounds present in coastal Gulf of Mexico waters during and after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill is proposed as a cause of adrenal and lung disease and as a contributor to increased dolphin deaths.”

“Animals with adrenal insufficiency are less able to cope with additional stressors in their everyday lives, and when those stressors occur, they are more likely to die,” said Dr. Stephanie Venn-Watson, the study’s lead author and veterinary epidemiologist at San Diego’s National Marine Mammal Foundation.





The Gulf of Mexico is turning into an accident blackspot with explosions in 2014 and 2015. An explosion and ensuing fire on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico on the 1st of April 2015 left four dead and injured 45 others, according to the Mexican state-run Pemex oil company. Pemex said that 300 workers had been evacuated after the fire broke out on their Abkatun Permanente platform.


Pemex is quoted as saying in a statement that no spill occurred: "The fire that broke today at the Abkatun processing platform in Campeche did not cause an oil spill in the sea. Authorities only registered a runoff, which is being contained by specialised vessels."


According to Pemex, among those killed was a contractor for the Mexican oil services company, Cotemar. Employees who escaped told the Associated Press that some people were forced to jump into the shallow waters to escape the blaze.  Original story By GILLIAN MOHNEY





One person was killed and three others were injured in an explosion on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico on the 20th of November 2014, according to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE). The three injured workers were undergoing treatment in a medical facility on the rig, said the BSEE at the time.


The explosion happened about 4 p.m. on board an oil rig roughly 12 miles off the coast of New Orleans.


The oil rig is owned by Houston-based Fieldwood Energy, which reported the explosion. The rig wasn't in production at the time of the explosion, said the BSEE.


The damage was limited to the explosion area and no pollution was reported. It was unclear what caused the explosion. The BSEE was investigating.










“The Great Invisible,” Margaret Brown’s quietly infuriating documentary film about the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, includes depressing information that many would probably be happier not knowing.


Since the catastrophe, which began with an oil rig explosion that killed 11 workers and led to a discharge of millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, the company that operated the rig, BP, has cleaned up less than one-third of the spill, according to the film. More than four years later, Congress has yet to pass any safety legislation for the petroleum industry. Of the multibillion-dollar profits made by BP over a recent three-year period, the film says, less than a tenth of 1 percent was spent on safety. After a brief moratorium on offshore drilling, the ban was lifted, and there are now more rigs in the Gulf of Mexico than before the disaster.


The film, for which BP executives declined to be interviewed, is not a thunderous, finger-pointing exposé of corporate greed and mismanagement. Nor is it a dry, fact-filled history of the disaster or an analysis of the technology of oil drilling. The 92-minute movie also leaves it for others to explore the spill’s ecological and environmental impact. There are a few obligatory images of sea birds coated with oil and aerial shots of oil slicks destined for the Gulf Coast.


The principal focus is on the everyday people whose lives were disrupted. A similar emphasis on human beings informed Ms. Brown’s acclaimed 2008 documentary, “The Order of Myths,” an exploration of Mardi Gras culture in Mobile, Ala.


The new film’s ground-level perspective includes interviews with several people who received minimal compensation from the $20 billion trust fund established to settle claims from the spill. The mistrustful attitude of these tough, independent workers near the bottom of the economic ladder toward those near the top is the underlying theme here. The glaring contrast between grim oyster shuckers and idled fishermen and Houston executives crowing about the fundamental importance of oil to the economy suggests a tragic disconnect between society’s haves and have-nots.


Caught in the middle are people like Douglas Harold Brown, the Deepwater Horizon’s chief mechanic, who was aboard the rig when the explosion took place. Mr. Brown delivers a moment-by-moment account of the disaster, while the screen shows the inferno of billowing smoke and flames. Mr. Brown details how he and the workers on the rig were pressured to eliminate jobs to save money. “Everybody knew” the dangers, he says. “It makes me feel guilty, because I played along. I knew what I was doing was wrong.” He links that failure to a macho culture in the oil business that glorifies risk-taking.


One of the most revealing scenes shows the chief executives of top oil companies answering questions before Congress and sounding like guilty, overgrown boys facing a grade school principal after being caught cheating. In another scene, a smug industry honcho gloatingly surmises that the American thirst for oil is so enormous that if the supply were cut off, the economy would collapse within hours.


The film’s portrayal of the trust fund, administered by Kenneth R. Feinberg, suggests that money was mismanaged and cut off prematurely. Many who were promised restitution received one or two small checks, then nothing. Mr. Feinberg, who comes across as highhanded and grandiose, acknowledges that he “overpromised” prompt delivery of relief.


Amid the cynicism, evasion and denial, a local hero stands out. Roosevelt Harris, a volunteer at a food pantry in Bayou La Batre, billed as Alabama’s seafood capital, advises the embittered and despairing workers who lost their jobs and homes to file claims. Such is their lack of faith in the system that they would rather not bother.





Bunk McNulty  -  "...advises the embittered and despairing workers who lost their jobs and homes to file claims. Such is their lack of faith in the system...


Jose  -  You gotta think about the executives at BP, how they can sleep at night and if they can, what kind of people they have become. And no doubt...


Marc Schenker  -  Perhaps 60 Minutes and Scott Pelley could do a follow up to the utterly shameless PR segment they did featuring the oh so sad and suffering...







Directed by Margaret Brown; directors of photography, Adam Stone, Jody Lee Lipes and Jeff Peixoto; edited by Tyler Hubby and Robin Schwartz; music by David Wingo; produced by Ms. Brown, Julie Goldman and Jason Orans; released by Radius TWC/Participant Media. Running time: 1 hour 32 minutes. This film is not rated.





Chevron Corporation today announced a new oil discovery at the Guadalupe prospect in the deepwater U.S. Gulf of Mexico. The Keathley Canyon Block 10 Well No. 1 encountered significant oil pay in the Lower Tertiary Wilcox Sands. The well is located approximately 180 miles off the Louisiana coast in 3,992 feet of water and was drilled to a depth of 30,173 feet.

"The discovery further demonstrates Chevron's exploration capabilities," George Kirkland, vice chairman and executive vice president, Upstream, Chevron Corporation is quoted as saying. "Guadalupe builds on our already strong position in the deepwater U.S. Gulf of Mexico, a core focus area where we expect significant production growth over the next two years."

"The Guadalupe discovery adds momentum to our growing business in North America," said Jay Johnson, senior vice president, Upstream, Chevron Corporation. "Our deepwater exploration and appraisal program continues to unlock important resources in the Gulf of Mexico."

"Chevron subsidiaries are among the top producers and leaseholders in the Gulf of Mexico, averaging net daily production of 143,000 barrels of crude oil, 347 million cubic feet of natural gas, and 15,000 barrels of natural gas liquids during 2013," according to Jeff Shellebarger, president, Chevron North America Exploration and Production Company. "The company expects additional Gulf of Mexico production from the Tubular Bells and Jack/St. Malo projects by the end of the year." 

Will they ever learn?  


The Gulf of Mexico (Spanish: Golfo de México) is an ocean basin largely surrounded by the North American continent. 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. The U.S. states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida border the Gulf on the north. In Texas and Louisiana, the Gulf Coast it is often referred to as the "Third Coast" in comparison with the U.S. Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

The Gulf of Mexico formed approximately 300 million years ago as a result of plate tectonics. The Gulf's basin is roughly oval and is approximately 810 nautical miles (1,500 km) wide and floored by sedimentary rocks and recent sediments. It is connected to part of the Atlantic Ocean through the Florida Straits between the U.S. and Cuba, and with the Caribbean Sea (with which it forms the American Mediterranean Sea) via the Yucatan Channel between Mexico and Cuba. With the narrow connection to the Atlantic, the Gulf experiences very small tidal ranges. The size of the Gulf basin is approximately 615,000 mi² (1.6 million km²). Almost half of the basin is shallow continental shelf waters. The basin contains a volume of roughly 660 quadrillion gallons (2.5 × 106 km3).










The Gulf of Mexico's eastern, northern, and northwestern shores lie along the US states of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. The US portion of the Gulf coastline spans 1,680 miles (2,700 km), receiving water from 33 major rivers that drain 31 states. The Gulf's southwestern and southern shores lie along the Mexican states of Tamaulipas, Veracruz, Tabasco, Campeche, Yucatán, and the northernmost tip of Quintana Roo. The Mexican portion of the Gulf coastline spans 1,743 miles (2,805 km). On its southeast quadrant the Gulf is bordered by Cuba. It supports major American, Mexican and Cuban fishing industries. The outer margins of the wide continental shelves of Yucatán and Florida receive cooler, nutrient-enriched waters from the deep by a process known as upwelling, which stimulates plankton growth in the euphotic zone. This attracts fish, shrimp, and squid. River drainage and atmospheric fallout from industrial coastal cities also provide nutrients to the coastal zone.

The Gulf Stream, a warm Atlantic Ocean current and one of the strongest ocean currents known, originates in the gulf, as a continuation of the Caribbean Current-Yucatán Current-Loop Current system. Other circulation features include the anticyclonic gyres which are shed by the Loop Current and travel westward where they eventually dissipate, and a permanent cyclonic gyre in the Bay of Campeche. The Bay of Campeche in Mexico constitutes a major arm of the Gulf of Mexico. Additionally, the gulf's shoreline is fringed by numerous bays and smaller inlets. A number of rivers empty into the gulf, most notably the Mississippi River and Rio Grande in the northern gulf, and the Grijalva and Usumacinta rivers in the southern gulf. The land that forms the gulf's coast, including many long, narrow barrier islands, is almost uniformly low-lying and is characterized by marshes and swamps as well as stretches of sandy beach.

The Gulf of Mexico is an excellent example of a passive margin. The continental shelf is quite wide at most points along the coast, most notably at the Florida and Yucatán Peninsulas. The shelf is exploited for its oil by means of offshore drilling rigs, most of which are situated in the western gulf and in the Bay of Campeche. Another important commercial activity is fishing; major catches include red snapper, amberjack, tilefish, swordfish, and various grouper, as well as shrimp and crabs. Oysters are also harvested on a large scale from many of the bays and sounds. Other important industries along the coast include shipping, petrochemical processing and storage, military use, paper manufacture, and tourism.

The gulf's warm water temperature can feed powerful Atlantic hurricanes causing extensive human death and other destruction as happened with Hurricane Katrina in 2005. In the Atlantic, a hurricane will draw up cool water from the depths and making it less likely that further hurricanes will follow in its wake (warm water being one of the preconditions necessary for their formation). However, the Gulf is shallower; when a hurricane passes over the water temperature may drop but it soon rebounds and becomes capable of supporting another tropical storm.

The Gulf is considered aseismic; however, mild tremors have been recorded throughout history (usually 5.0 or less on the Richter scale). Earthquakes may be caused by interactions between sediment loading on the sea floor and adjustment by the crust.





A 3D map of the ocean basin, Gulf of Mexico




The major environmental threats to the Gulf are agricultural runoff and oil drilling.

There are frequent "red tide" algae blooms that kill fish and marine mammals and cause respiratory problems in humans and some domestic animals when the blooms reach close to shore. This has especially been plaguing the southwest and southern Florida coast, from the Florida Keys to north of Pasco County, Florida.

The Gulf contains a hypoxic dead zone that runs east-west along the Texas-Louisiana coastline. In July 2008, researchers reported that between 1985 and 2008, the area roughly doubled in size and now stretches from near Galveston, Texas, to near Venice, Louisiana. It is now about 8,000 square miles (21,000 km2), nearly the record. Poor agricultural practices in the northern portion of the Gulf of Mexico have led to a tremendous increase of nitrogen and phosphorus in neighboring marine ecosystems, which has resulted in algae blooms and a lack of available oxygen. Occurrences of masculinization and estrogen suppression were observed as a result. An October 2007 study of the Atlantic croaker found a disproportioned sex ratio of 61% males to 39% females in hypoxic Gulf sites. This was compared with a 52% to 48% male-female ratio found in reference sites, showing an impairment of reproductive output for fish populations inhabiting hypoxic coastal zones.

There are 27,000 abandoned oil and gas wells beneath the Gulf. These have generally not been checked for potential environmental problems.




The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) protects the environment across the 1.7 billion acres of the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), including trash and debris from the offshore energy industry. The BSEE Marine Trash and Debris (MT&D) program focuses on education and regulation to minimize environmental damage on the OCS.


BSEE’s Marine Trash and Debris Program is designed to eliminate debris associated with oil and gas operations on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). We do this by:


* requiring safe practices for handling trash,
* manifesting trash sent to shore,
* displaying MT&D placards,
* and providing educational training for all personnel working on offshore facilities.


There are many sources of marine trash and debris. Marine trash and debris includes any items in our oceans and coastal waters that people lose or purposely discard. Such items vary in their durability and may persist for months, years, and even for centuries. Items that are composed of organic materials (e.g., food, cotton, and paper) will decompose in weeks or months. However, inorganic items such as metals, synthetic materials, and plastics persist for very long durations and have become a significant problem in our oceans. 





The chart above depicts the estimated time it takes for various items of MT&D to decompose. Glass is estimated to take up to a million years to decompose.




Scientists tell us that plastics do not truly decompose. They do not “mineralize,” which means to break down into their elemental parts, i.e., the minerals that compose them. They retain their basic structure as plastic, but just continue to break into smaller and smaller pieces. Eventually, the pieces get so small that they are the size of marine plankton. Researchers have found the concentration of plastic particles in the North Pacific Ocean currents is 45 times higher than the concentration of plankton in that area. Ocean currents concentrate floating particles, and this can be a significant problem. Animals that feed on plankton are also ingesting quantities of plastic.

Plastics in our oceans come from many sources. Land-based sources actually contribute a large portion of the MT&D to our oceans. Much debris is deposited directly into rivers and floats down to the sea. However, even debris that is deposited on the land itself can find its way into the ocean. For example, a plastic bag that held 20 pounds of ice can be lost from the back of a pick-up truck and fall into the ditch. The sun works on it and it starts breaking into smaller and smaller pieces. The next flooding rain washes the plastic pieces into the nearest creek or bayou, where it eventually finds its way into our coastal bays and into the ocean. Of course, boat traffic is another major source of debris in our oceans.









BSEE requirements for prevention of MT&D are described in the Notice to Lessees 2012-G01. Here’s a summary of the requirements.

1. Training. All personnel working offshore for oil and gas Operators must have MT&D training. The MT&D training program includes four requirements.

a) Personnel view a MT&D slide show presentation or video, annually.
b) Management emphasizes their commitment to marine debris prevention.
c) Maintain attendance records.
d) Make records available for inspection by BSEE personnel.


2. Placards. Marine Trash and Debris warning and information placards must be displayed on offshore structures large enough to have sleeping or food preparation facilities. Placards must follow guidelines in NTL 2012-G01.


3. Reporting. Operators must provide BSEE with an annual report describing their MT&D training. This report must be filed by January 31 of each year and should be sent via email to


4. Site Clearance. BSEE requires offshore O&G structures to be removed when they reach the end of their usefulness. Alternatively, some structures can be converted into permanent artificial reefs. BSEE requires structures destroyed by storms to be salvaged and removed, since they have not been properly cleaned for reefing.


5. Authorities. BSEE regulates marine trash and debris for oil & gas operations on the OCS through 30 CFR 250, Subpart C – Pollution Prevention and Control, 250.300(b) (6), 250.300(c) and (d); 30 CFR 250, Subpart Q – Decommissioning Activities, 250.1703 and 250.1704; and 30 CFR 250.1740 – 250.1743 (Site Clearance for Wells, Platforms, and Other Facilities). For renewable energy development on the OCS, BSEE regulates marine debris through 30 CFR 285.105 and 285.906. Furthermore, the intentional jettisoning of trash has been the subject of strict laws such as MARPOL-Annex V and the Marine Plastic Pollution Research and Control Act, and regulations imposed by various agencies including the United States Coast Guard (USCG) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).







Ixtoc I was an exploratory oil well being drilled by the semi-submersible drilling rig Sedco 135-F in the Bay of Campeche of the Gulf of Mexico, about 100 km (62 mi) northwest of Ciudad del Carmen, Campeche in waters 50 m (160 ft) deep. On 3 June 1979, the well suffered a blowout resulting in one of the largest oil spills in history.

Mexico's state-owned oil company Pemex (Petróleos Mexicanos) was drilling a 3 km (1.9 mi) deep oil well when the drilling rig Sedco 135F lost drilling mud circulation.

In modern rotary drilling, mud is circulated down the drill pipe and back up the well bore to the surface. The goal is to equalize the pressure through the shaft and to monitor the returning mud for gas. Without the counter-pressure provided by the circulating mud, the pressure in the formation allowed oil to fill the well column, blowing out the well. The oil caught fire, and Sedco 135F burned and collapsed into the sea.

At the time of the accident Sedco 135F was drilling at a depth of about 3,600 metres (11,800 ft) below the seafloor. The day before Ixtoc suffered the blowout and resulting fire that caused her to sink, the drill bit hit a region of soft strata. Subsequently, the circulation of drilling mud was lost resulting in a loss of hydrostatic pressure. Rather than returning to the surface, the drilling mud was escaping into fractures that had formed in the rock at the bottom of the hole. Pemex officials decided to remove the bit, run the drill pipe back into the hole and pump materials down this open-ended drill pipe in an effort to seal off the fractures that were causing the loss of circulation.

During the removal of the pipe on Sedco 135F, the drilling mud suddenly began to flow up towards the surface; by removing the drill-string the well was swabbed leading to a kick. Normally, this flow can be stopped by activating shear rams contained in the blowout preventer (BOP). These rams are designed to sever and seal off the well on the ocean floor; however in this case the drill collars had been brought in line with the BOP and the BOP rams were not able to sever the thick steel walls of the drill collars leading to a catastrophic blowout.

The drilling mud was followed by a large quantity of oil and gas at an increasing flow rate. The oil and gas fumes exploded on contact with the operating pump motors, starting a fire which led to the collapse of the Sedco 135F drilling tower. The collapse caused damage to underlying well structures. The damage to the well structures led to the release of significant quantities of oil into the Gulf.


In the initial stages of the spill, an estimated 30,000 barrels (5,000 m3) of oil per day were flowing from the well. In July 1979, the pumping of mud into the well reduced the flow to 20,000 barrels (3,000 m3) per day, and early in August the pumping of nearly 100,000 steel, iron, and lead balls into the well reduced the flow to 10,000 barrels (2,000 m3) per day. Pemex claimed that half of the released oil burned when it reached the surface, a third of it evaporated, and the rest was contained or dispersed. Mexican authorities also drilled two relief wells into the main well to lower the pressure of the blowout, however the oil continued to flow for three months following the completion of the first relief well.

Pemex contracted Conair Aviation to spray the chemical dispersant Corexit 9527 on the oil. A total of 493 aerial missions were flown, treating 1,100 square miles (2,800 km2) of oil slick. Dispersants were not used in the U.S. area of the spill because of the dispersant's inability to treat weathered oil. Eventually the on-scene coordinator (OSC) requested that Mexico stop using dispersants north of 25°N.

In Texas, an emphasis was placed on coastal countermeasures protecting the bays and lagoons formed by the barrier islands. Impacts of oil to the barrier island beaches were ranked as second in importance to protecting inlets to the bays and lagoons. This was done with the placement of skimmers and booms. Efforts were concentrated on the Brazos-Santiago Pass, Port Mansfield Channel, Aransas Pass, and Cedar Bayou which during the course of the spill was sealed with sand. Economically and environmentally sensitive barrier island beaches were cleaned daily. Laborers used rakes and shovels to clean beaches rather than heavier equipment which removed too much sand. Ultimately, 71,500 barrels (11,000 m3) of oil impacted 162 miles (260 km) of U.S. beaches, and over 10,000 cubic yards (8,000 m3) of oiled material were removed.


In the next nine months, experts and divers including Red Adair were brought in to contain and cap the oil well. An average of approximately 10,000 to 30,000 barrels (2,000 to 5,000 m3) per day were discharged into the Gulf until it was finally capped on 23 March 1980, nearly 10 months later. In similarity to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill 31 years later, the list of methods attempted to remediate the leak included lowering a cap over the well, plugging the leak with mud and "junk", use of dispersants, and spending months attempting to drill relief wells.











On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil platform, located in the Mississippi Canyon about 40 miles (64 km) off the Louisiana coast, suffered a catastrophic explosion; it sank a day-and-a-half later. It was in the process of being sealed with cement for temporary abandonment, to avoid environmental problems. Although initial reports indicated that relatively little oil had leaked, by April 24, it was claimed by BP that approximately 1,000 barrels (160 m3) of oil per day were issuing from the wellhead, about 1-mile (1.6 km) below the surface on the ocean floor. On April 29, the U.S. government revealed that approximately 5,000 barrels (790 m3) per day, five times the original estimate, were pouring into the Gulf from the wellhead. The resulting oil slick quickly expanded to cover hundreds of square miles of ocean surface, posing a serious threat to marine life and adjacent coastal wetlands, and to the livelihoods of Gulf Coast shrimpers and fishermen. Coast Guard Rear Adm. Sally Brice O’Hare stated that the U.S. government will be “employing booms, skimmers, chemical dispersants and controlled burns” to combat the oil spill. As of May 1, 2010, the oil spill cleanup efforts are underway, but hampered by rough seas and the "tea like" consistency of the oil. As of May 27, 2010, USGS had revised the estimate of the leak from 5,000 barrels per day (790 m3/d) to 12,000–19,000 barrels per day (3,000 m3/d) an increase from earlier estimates. On July 15, 2010, BP announced that the leak stopped for the first time in 88 days.


The Deepwater Horizon oil spill is also referred to as the BP oil spill, the BP oil disaster, the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and the Macondo blowout. The rig was a BP-operated Macondo Prospect. It claimed eleven lives and is considered the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry, an estimated 8% to 31% larger in volume than the previously largest, the Ixtoc I oil spill. Following the explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, a sea-floor oil gusher flowed for 87 days, until it was capped on 15 July 2010. The US Government estimated the total discharge at 4.9 million barrels (210 million US gal; 780,000 m3). After several failed efforts to contain the flow, the well was declared sealed on 19 September 2010. Some reports indicate the well site continues to leak.

A massive response ensued to protect beaches, wetlands and estuaries from the spreading oil utilizing skimmer ships, floating booms, controlled burns and 1.84 million US gallons (7,000 m3) of Corexit oil dispersant. Due to the months-long spill, along with adverse effects from the response and cleanup activities, extensive damage to marine and wildlife habitats and fishing and tourism industries were reported. In Louisiana, 4.6 million pounds of oily material was removed from the beaches in 2013, over double the amount collected in 2012. Oil cleanup crews worked four days a week on 55 miles of Louisiana shoreline throughout 2013.

Oil continued to be found as far from the Macondo site as the waters off the Florida Panhandle and Tampa Bay, where scientists said the oil and dispersant mixture is embedded in the sand. In 2013 it was reported that dolphins and other marine life continued to die in record numbers with infant dolphins dying at six times the normal rate. One study released in 2014 reported that tuna and amberjack that were exposed to oil from the spill developed deformities of the heart and other organs that would be expected to be fatal or at least life-shortening and another study found that cardiotoxicity might have been widespread in animal life exposed to the spill.

Numerous investigations explored the causes of the explosion and record-setting spill. Notably, the U.S. government's September 2011 report pointed to defective cement on the well, faulting mostly BP, but also rig operator Transocean and contractor Halliburton. Earlier in 2011, a White House commission likewise blamed BP and its partners for a series of cost-cutting decisions and an insufficient safety system, but also concluded that the spill resulted from "systemic" root causes and "absent significant reform in both industry practices and government policies, might well recur".

In November 2012, BP and the United States Department of Justice settled federal criminal charges with BP pleading guilty to 11 counts of manslaughter, two misdemeanors, and a felony count of lying to Congress. BP also agreed to four years of government monitoring of its safety practices and ethics, and the Environmental Protection Agency announced that BP would be temporarily banned from new contracts with the US government. BP and the Department of Justice agreed to a record-setting $4.525 billion in fines and other payments but further legal proceedings not expected to conclude until 2014 are ongoing to determine payouts and fines under the Clean Water Act and the Natural Resources Damage Assessment. As of February 2013, criminal and civil settlements and payments to a trust fund had cost the company $42.2 billion.

In September 2014, a U.S. District Court judge ruled that BP was primarily responsible for the oil spill because of its gross negligence and reckless conduct. The ruling could result in additional penalties as high as $18 billion, with grave implications for BP's future.

On 15 April 2014, BP claimed that cleanup along the coast was substantially complete, but the United States Coast Guard responded that a lot of work remained. The details of the cleanup operations are unclear.









The spill area hosts 8,332 species, including more than 1,270 fish, 604 polychaetes, 218 birds, 1,456 mollusks, 1,503 crustaceans, 4 sea turtles and 29 marine mammals. Between May and June 2010, the spill waters contained 40 times more Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) than before the spill. PAHs are often linked to oil spills and include carcinogens and chemicals that pose various health risks to humans and marine life. The PAHs were most concentrated near the Louisiana Coast, but levels also jumped 2–3 fold in areas off Alabama, Mississippi and Florida. PAHs can harm marine species directly and microbes used to consume the oil can reduce marine oxygen levels. The oil contained approximately 40% methane by weight, compared to about 5% found in typical oil deposits. Methane can potentially suffocate marine life and create "dead zones" where oxygen is depleted.

A 2014 study of the effects of the oil spill on bluefin tuna funded by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Stanford University, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium and published in the journal Science, found that the toxins from oil spills can cause irregular heartbeats leading to cardiac arrest. Calling the vicinity of the spill "one of the most productive ocean ecosystems in the world", the study found that even at very low concentrations "PAH cardiotoxicity was potentially a common form of injury among a broad range of species in the vicinity of the oil." Another peer-reviewed study, released in March 2014 and conducted by 17 scientists from the United States and Australia and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that tuna and amberjack that were exposed to oil from the spill developed deformities of the heart and other organs that would be expected to be fatal or at least life-shortening. The scientists said that their findings would most likely apply to other large predator fish and "even to humans, whose developing hearts are in many ways similar." BP responded that the concentrations of oil in the study were a level rarely seen in the Gulf, but The New York Times reported that the BP statement was contradicted by the study.

The oil dispersant Corexit, previously only used as a surface application, was released underwater in unprecedented amounts, with the intent of making it more easily biodegraded by naturally occurring microbes. Thus, oil that would normally rise to the surface of the water was emulsified into tiny droplets and remained suspended in the water and on the sea floor. The oil and dispersant mixture permeated the food chain through zooplankton. Signs of an oil-and-dispersant mix were found under the shells of tiny blue crab larvae. A study of insect populations in the coastal marshes affected by the spill also found a significant impact. Chemicals from the spill were found in migratory birds as far away as Minnesota. Pelican eggs contained "petroleum compounds and Corexit". Dispersant and PAHs from oil are believed to have caused "disturbing numbers" of mutated fish that scientists and commercial fishers saw in 2012, including 50% of shrimp found lacking eyes and eye sockets. Fish with oozing sores and lesions were first noted by fishermen in November 2010. Prior to the spill, approximately 0.1% of Gulf fish had lesions or sores. A report from the University of Florida said that many locations showed 20% of fish with lesions, while later estimates reached 50%. In October 2013, Al Jazeera reported that the gulf ecosystem was "in crisis", citing a decline in seafood catches, as well as deformities and lesions found in fish.

In July 2010 it was reported that the spill was "already having a 'devastating' effect on marine life in the Gulf". Damage to the ocean floor especially endangered the Louisiana pancake batfish whose range is entirely contained within the spill-affected area. In March 2012, a definitive link was found between the death of a Gulf coral community and the spill. According to NOAA, a cetacean Unusual Mortality Event (UME) has been recognized since before the spill began, NOAA is investigating possible contributing factors to the ongoing UME from the Deepwater Horizon spill, with the possibility of eventual criminal charges being filed if the spill is shown to be connected. Some estimates are that only 2% of the carcasses of killed mammals have been recovered.

In the first birthing season for dolphins after the spill, dead baby dolphins washed up along Mississippi and Alabama shorelines at about 10 times the normal number. A peer-reviewed NOAA/BP study disclosed that nearly half the bottlenose dolphins tested in mid-2011 in Barataria Bay, a heavily oiled area, were in “guarded or worse” condition, "including 17 percent that were not expected to survive". BP officials deny that the disease conditions are related to the spill, saying that that dolphin deaths actually began being reported before the BP oil spill. By 2013, over 650 dolphins had been found stranded in the oil spill area, a four-fold increase over the historical average. The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) reports that sea turtles, mostly endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtles, have been stranding at a high rate. Before the spill there were an average of 100 strandings per year; since the spill the number has jumped to roughly 500. NWF senior scientist Doug Inkley notes that the marine death rates are unprecedented and occurring high in the food chain, strongly suggesting there is "something amiss with the Gulf ecosystem". In December 2013, the journal Environmental Science & Technology published a study finding that of 32 dolphins briefly captured from 24-km stretch near southeastern Louisiana, half were seriously ill or dying. BP said the report was “inconclusive as to any causation associated with the spill”.

In 2012, tar balls continued to wash up along the Gulf coast and in 2013, tar balls could still be found in on the Mississippi and Louisiana coasts, along with oil sheens in marshes and signs of severe erosion of coastal islands, brought about the death of trees and marsh grass from exposure to the oil. In 2013, former NASA physicist Bonny Schumaker noted a "dearth of marine life" in a radius 30 to 50 miles (48 to 80 km) around the well, after flying over the area numerous times since May 2010.

In 2013, researchers found that oil on the bottom of the seafloor did not seem to be degrading, and observed a phenomenon called a "dirty blizzard": oil in the water column began clumping around suspended sediments, and falling to the ocean floor in an "underwater rain of oily particles." The result could have long-term effects because oil could remain in the food chain for generations.

A 2014 bluefin tuna study in Science found that oil already broken down by wave action and chemical dispersants was more toxic than fresh oil.







Rig Name

Rig Owner


Damage / details



Chevron Corporation

Sub Recessed pontoons

Blowout and fire. Returned to service.


C. T. Thornton

Reading & Bates


Blowout and fire damage.


C. P. Baker

Reading & Bates

Drill barge

Blowout in Gulf of Mexico, vessel capsized, 22 killed.



Royal Dutch Shell


Destroyed by blowout.





Destroyed by blowout and fire.


Little Bob



Blowout and fire, killed 7.


Wodeco III

Floor drilling

Drilling barge



Sedco 135G

Sedco Inc


Blowout damage


Rimrick Tidelands



Blowout in Gulf of Mexico


Stormdrill III

Storm Drilling


Blowout and fire damage.


Discoverer III

Offshore Co.


Blowout (S. China Seas)


Big John

Atwood Oceanics

Drill barge

Blowout and fire.


Wodeco II

Floor Drilling

Drill barge

Blowout and fire off Peru, 7 killed.


J. Storm II

Marine Drilling Co.


Blowout in Gulf of Mexico


M. G. Hulme

Reading & Bates


Blowout and capsize in Java Sea.


Rig 20

Transworld Drilling


Blowout in Gulf of Martaban.


Mariner I

Sante Fe Drilling


Blowout off Trinidad, 3 killed.


Mariner II

Sante Fe Drilling


Lost BOP during blowout.


J. Storm II

Marine Drilling Co.


Blowout in Gulf of Mexico.


Petrobras III



No info.


W. D. Kent

Reading & Bates


Damage while drilling relief well.


Maersk Explorer

Maersk Drilling


Blowout and fire in North Sea


Ekofisk Bravo

Phillips Petroleum


Blowout during well workover.


Scan Bay

Scan Drilling


Blowout and fire in the Persion Gulf.


Salenergy II

Salen Offshore


Blowout in Gulf of Mexico


Sedco 135F

Sedco Drilling


Blowout and fire in Bay of Campeche Ixtoc I well.


Sedco 135G

Sedco Drilling


Blowout and fire of Nigeria.


Discoverer 534

Offshore Co.


Gas escape caught fire.


Ron Tappmeyer

Reading & Bates


Blowout in Persian Gulf, 5 killed.


Nanhai II

Peoples Republic of China


Blowout of Hainan Island.


Maersk Endurer

Maersk Drilling


Blowout in Red Sea, 2 killed.


Ocean King



Blowout and fire in Gulf of Mexico, 5 killed


Marlin 14

Marlin Drilling


Blowout in Gulf of Mexico


Penrod 50

Penrod Drilling


Blowout and fire in Gulf of Mexico.


West Vanguard



Shallow gas blowout and fire in Norwegian sea, 1 fatality.


Petromar V



Gas blowout and capsize in S. China seas


Bull Run

Atwood Oceanics


Oil and gas blowout Dubai, 3 fatalities.


Ocean Odyssey

Diamond Offshore Drilling


Gas blowout at BOP and fire in the UK North Sea, 1 killed.





Blowout at Petrobras PCE-1 (Brazil) in April 24. Fire burned for 31 days. No fatalities. 


Al Baz

Sante Fe


Shallow gas blowout and fire in Nigeria, 5 killed.


M. Naqib Khalid

Naqib Co.

Naqib Drilling

fire and explosion. Returned to service.





Sub-sea blowout in Vietnam.


Ensco 51



Gas blowout and fire, Gulf of Mexico, no casualties


Arabdrill 19

Arabian Drilling Co.


Structural collapse, blowout, fire and sinking.


Adriatic IV

Global Sante Fe


Blowout and fire at Temsah platform, Mediterranean Sea





Storm forced rig to move, causing well blowout on Kab 101 platform, 22 killed


West Atlas / Montara


Jackup / Platform

Blowout and fire on rig and platform in Australia.


Deepwater Horizon



Blowout and fire on the rig, subsea well blowout, killed 11 in explosion.


Vermilion Block 380

Mariner Energy


Blowout and fire, 13 survivors, 1 injured.


KS Endeavour

KS Energy Services


Blowout and fire on the rig, collapsed, killed 2 in explosion.











Gushers were an icon of oil exploration during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. During that era, the simple drilling techniques such as cable-tool drilling and the lack of blowout preventers meant that drillers could not control high-pressure reservoirs. When these high pressure zones were breached, the hydrocarbon fluids would travel up the well at a high rate, forcing out the drill string and creating a gusher. A well which began as a gusher was said to have "blown in": for instance, the Lakeview Gusher blew in in 1910. These uncapped wells could produce large amounts of oil, often shooting 200 feet (60 m) or higher into the air. A blowout primarily composed of natural gas was known as a gas gusher.

Despite being symbols of new-found wealth, gushers were dangerous and wasteful. They killed workmen involved in drilling, destroyed equipment, and coated the landscape with thousands of barrels of oil; additionally, the explosive concussion released by the well when it pierces an oil/gas reservoir has been responsible for a number of oilmen losing their hearing entirely; standing too near to the drilling rig at the moment it drills into the oil reservoir is extremely hazardous. The impact on wildlife is very hard to quantify, but can only be estimated to be mild in the most optimistic models—realistically, the ecological impact is estimated by scientists across the ideological spectrum to be severe, profound, and lasting.

To complicate matters further, the free flowing oil was—and is—in danger of igniting. One dramatic account of a blowout and fire reads,

"With a roar like a hundred express trains racing across the countryside, the well blew out, spewing oil in all directions. The derrick simply evaporated. Casings wilted like lettuce out of water, as heavy machinery writhed and twisted into grotesque shapes in the blazing inferno."

The development of rotary drilling techniques where the density of the drilling fluid is sufficient to overcome the downhole pressure of a newly penetrated zone meant that gushers became avoidable. If however the fluid density was not adequate or fluids were lost to the formation, then there was still a significant risk of a well blowout.

In 1924 the first successful blowout preventer was brought to market. The BOP valve affixed to the wellhead could be closed in the event of drilling into a high pressure zone, and the well fluids contained. Well control techniques could be used to regain control of the well. As the technology developed, blowout preventers became standard equipment, and gushers became a thing of the past.

In the modern petroleum industry, uncontrollable wells became known as blowouts and are comparatively rare. There has been significant improvement in technology, well control techniques, and personnel training which has helped to prevent their occurring. From 1976 to 1981, 21 blowout reports are available.








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1. Although it didn't actually happen when drilling for oil, an attempt in 1815 to drill for salt produced the earliest known oil gusher. Joseph Eichar and his team were digging for salt west of the town of Wooster, Ohio, along Killbuck Creek, when they struck oil. In a written retelling by Eichar's daughter, Eleanor, the strike produced "a spontaneous outburst, which shot up high as the tops of the highest trees!"

2. The Shaw Gusher in Oil Springs, Ontario, was North America's (and possibly the world's) first oil gusher when actually drilling for oil. On January 16, 1862, it shot oil from over 60 metres (200 ft) below ground to above the treetops at a rate of 3,000 barrels (480 m3) per day, triggering the oil boom in Lambton County.

3. Lucas Gusher at Spindletop in Beaumont, Texas in 1901 flowed at 100,000 barrels (16,000 m3) per day at its peak, but soon slowed and was capped within nine days. The well tripled U.S. oil production overnight and marked the start of the Texas oil industry.

4. Masjed Soleiman, Iran in 1908 marked the first major oil strike recorded in the Middle East.

5. Dos Bocas in the State of Veracruz, Mexico, was a famous Mexican blowout that formed a large crater, and leaked oil from the main reservoir for many years, even after Pemex nationalized the Mexican oil industry in March 1938.

6. Lakeview Gusher on the Midway-Sunset Oil Field in Kern County, California of 1910 is believed to be the largest-ever U.S. gusher. At its peak, more than 100,000 barrels (16,000 m3) of oil per day flowed out, reaching as high as 200 feet (60 m) in the air. It remained uncapped for 18 months, spilling over 9 million barrels (1,400,000 m3) of oil, less than half of which was recovered.

7. A short-lived gusher at Alamitos #1 in Signal Hill, California in 1921 marked the discovery of the Long Beach Oil Field, one of the most productive oil fields in the world.

8. The Barroso 2 well in Cabimas, Venezuela in December 1922 flowed at around 100,000 barrels (16,000 m3) per day for nine days, plus a large amount of natural gas.

9. Baba Gurgur near Kirkuk, Iraq, an oilfield known since antiquity, erupted at a rate of 95,000 barrels (15,100 m3) a day in 1927.

10. The Wild Mary Sudik gusher in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in 1930 flowed at a rate of 72,000 barrels (11,400 m3) per day.

11. The Daisy Bradford gusher in 1930 marked the discovery of the East Texas Oil Field, the largest oilfield in the contiguous United States.

12. The largest known 'wildcat' oil gusher blew near Qom, Iran on August 26, 1956. The uncontrolled oil gushed to a height of 52 m (170 ft), at a rate of 120,000 barrels (19,000 m3) per day. The gusher was closed after 90 days' work by Bagher Mostofi and Myron Kinley (USA).

13. One of the most troublesome gushers happened on June 23, 1985 at the well #37 at the Tengiz field in Atyrau, Kazakh SSR, Soviet Union, where the deep, 4209 metre well blew out and the 200-metres high gusher self-ignited two days later. Oil pressure up to 800 atm and high hydrogen sulfide content had led to the gusher being capped only on 27 July 1986 when the well was closed by the shaped charge. The total volume of erupted material measured at 4.3 millions metric tons of oil, 1.7 bn m³ of natural gas, and the burning gusher resulted in 890 tons of various mercaptans and more than 900,000 tons of soot released into atmosphere.

14. The largest underwater blowout in U.S. history occurred on April 20, 2010, in the Gulf of Mexico at the Macondo Prospect oil field. The blowout caused the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon, a mobile offshore drilling platform owned by Transocean and under lease to BP at the time of the blowout. While the exact volume of oil spilled is unknown, as of June 3, 2010, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Flow Rate Technical Group has placed the estimate at between 35,000 to 60,000 barrels (5,600 to 9,500 m3) of crude oil per day.























New York Times 2014 The-great-invisible-on-the-deepwater-horizon-oil-spill

Marine technology news chevron-finds-deepwater-mexico

The Economist Black Storm Rising

Bloomberg Gulf of Mexico

Gulf Council


Wikipedia Gulf_of_Mexico

Wikipedia Blowouts_well_drilling notable_offshore

Wikipedia List_of_oil_spills

Wikipedia International_Convention_for_the_Safety_of_Life_at_Sea

Restoration NOAA Deepwater Horizon













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