Stories tagged Gulf of Mexico

Thanks to record flooding in the Mississippi River, this year's Gulf of Mexico dead zone could exceed 2002's whopping 8,400 square-mile bout of hypoxia.

The Guthrie Theater: Come visit this state-of-the-art theater right here in Minneapolis!  This weekend, see Macondo, a play about the BP oil spill for only $10/ticket.
The Guthrie Theater: Come visit this state-of-the-art theater right here in Minneapolis! This weekend, see Macondo, a play about the BP oil spill for only $10/ticket.Courtesy stevelyon

Whether you've been following the Deepwater Horizon (BP) oil spill or not, if you like theater, have I got a show for you!

A friend turned me on to Macondo playing at the Guthrie theater through this weekend (last show is Sunday, Aug. 1st at 1:00pm). The play is A Guthrie Experience for Actors in Training production, so tickets are only $10/each. I've posted the Guthrie's description of the play below, but if you want more information or to reserve your tickets, click here.

"Macondo is a place of myth, a place where oil spills under and over water, creating a chain reaction that devastates human lives and animal habitats. It is also the name of the ruptured BP undersea oil field and oil well responsible for the current Gulf of Mexico spill. The gods awake from their slumber and intervene in this dramatically unfolding story that currently weaves itself through the fabric of our lives."

Estimates of the amount of oil that spilled from the ruined Deepwater Horizon wellhead vary greatly, so it's tough to pin down a total amount. (The short answer is, "a LOT.") But that difficulty hasn't stopped a bunch of different sources from trying...

The official estimate is that some 50 million to 140 million gallons spilled.

Boston.com has a nice gallery of images to help visualize just how much oil has spilled in the Gulf of Mexico. (Unfortunately, the numbers and comparisons only reflect the amount spilled as of June 11, so it's a month out of date. But still fascinating.)

The Alaska Dispatch has a counter that estimates the total amount of oil spilled. (They figure some 92,240,117 gallons, or about 2,196,193 barrels, over 87 days.)

And, last, here's a map of the world's largest oil spills.

Pelican-stock 2010: A flock of well-oiled pelicans need cleaning after the Gulf oil spill crisis.
Pelican-stock 2010: A flock of well-oiled pelicans need cleaning after the Gulf oil spill crisis.Courtesy IBRRC
Should you ever find yourself needing to clean a pelican (and more and more of us probably will after the Gulf oil spill) here are step-by-step instructions and the every-day household product that does the trick well. Proctor & Gamble stock will probably climb at the same rate BP stock drops these days.

Jun
11
2010

Dive in and explore: Discover amazing videos, pictures, and cool ocean stuff, including teacher resources and actions you can take.
Dive in and explore: Discover amazing videos, pictures, and cool ocean stuff, including teacher resources and actions you can take.Courtesy Smithsonian Ocean Portal

Today marks the 100th birthday of the late, great ocean explorer and visionary Jacques Cousteau. How many remember watching “The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau” on TV—either as a kid or with their kids? For many of us in the 1960s and 70s, a Cousteau TV special was a major event that brought the whole family together. His programs were how we first came to love and appreciate the marine world and see the effects of human actions. Cousteau was truly ahead of his time, and his conservation ethic is needed more than ever as we tackle problems like climate change, overfishing, pollution, and—of course—the devastating oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
We can draw inspiration from his example and take steps to help the ocean. Some of the most important actions you can take involve making changes in your own home, driveway, and workplace. The newly launched Smithsonian Ocean Portal is an award-winning website designed to help people connect with the ocean and “Find Their Blue.” More than 20 organizations have joined forces to build this site as a way to inspire and engage more people in ocean science and issues. Why not start today, as a birthday gift to Cousteau?
Tell us how he inspired you
and learn more about sharks and squids, coral reefs, the deep ocean, the Gulf oil spill, and much more. Dive in and explore!
Colleen Marzec, Managing Producer
Smithsonian Ocean Portal

May
21
2010

Holy cow, Buzzketeers. The oil spill news just keeps coming! I can hardly keep up READING about it, much less BLOGGING.

So I'm going to leave you this weekend with a series of cool links, and you and I can read together.

Start with this mind-boggling plethora of interactive features and graphics from the NYTimes Gulf of Mexico oil spill multimedia collection.

An interactive map tracking the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, plus: video, graphics, and photos."

Size of oil spill underestimated, scientists say (5/13/10)

"Two weeks ago, the government put out a round estimate of the size of the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico: 5,000 barrels a day. Repeated endlessly in news reports, it has become conventional wisdom.

But scientists and environmental groups are raising sharp questions about that estimate, declaring that the leak must be far larger. They also criticize BP for refusing to use well-known scientific techniques that would give a more precise figure."

BP boss admits job on the line over Gulf oil spill (5/14/10)

"Tony Hayward, the beleaguered chief executive of BP, has claimed its oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is "relatively tiny" compared with the "very big ocean".

In an bullish interview with the Guardian at BP's crisis centre in Houston, Hayward insisted that the leaked oil and the estimated 400,000 gallons of dispersant that BP has pumped into the sea to try to tackle the slick should be put in context.

"The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume," he said."

Giant plumes of oil forming under the Gulf (5/15/10)

"Scientists are finding enormous oil plumes in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, including one as large as 10 miles long, 3 miles wide and 300 feet thick in spots. The discovery is fresh evidence that the leak from the broken undersea well could be substantially worse than estimates that the government and BP have given."

BP reports some success in capturing leaking oil (5/17/10)

"NEW ORLEANS — After more than three weeks of efforts to stop a gushing oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, BP engineers achieved some success on Sunday when they used a milelong pipe to capture some of the oil and divert it to a drill ship on the surface some 5,000 feet above the wellhead, company officials said."

Conflict of interest worries raised in spill tests (5/20/10)

"Local environmental officials throughout the Gulf Coast are feverishly collecting water, sediment and marine animal tissue samples that will be used in the coming months to help track pollution levels resulting from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake, since those readings will be used by the federal government and courts to establish liability claims against BP. But the laboratory that officials have chosen to process virtually all of the samples is part of an oil and gas services company in Texas that counts oil firms, including BP, among its biggest clients."

Agency orders use of a less toxic chemical in Gulf (5/20/10)

"GRAND ISLE, La. — Local and state officials here voiced desperation on Thursday as their fears became far more tangible, with oil from the BP spill showing up on shore as tar balls, sheens and gooey slicks.

In Washington, the Environmental Protection Agency said it had told the oil company to immediately select a less toxic dispersant than the one it is now using to break up crude oil gushing from a ruined well in the Gulf of Mexico. Once the agency has signed off on a different product, it said, the company would then have 72 hours to start using it."

Environmental fallout from Gulf oil spill (5/20/10)

"The release of millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico could have profound effects for wildlife and aquatic life, and now is threatening to go beyond the Gulf. Midmorning looks at the impact of the spill."

And last, but not least, here's the relevant page on the website of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, which has a nice aggregator of oil spill news, along with video from the ocean floor.

CNN's got a spill tracker - watch the slick spread. (You can also view satellite images of the oil spill and see a discussion of just how much oil we're talking about.)

Oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico: NASA's Aqua satellite captured this image of the Gulf of Mexico on April 25, 2010 using its Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument. With the Mississippi Delta on the left, the silvery swirling oil slick from the April 20 explosion and subsequent sinking of the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform is highly visible. The rig was located roughly 50 miles southeast of the coast of Louisiana.
Oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico: NASA's Aqua satellite captured this image of the Gulf of Mexico on April 25, 2010 using its Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument. With the Mississippi Delta on the left, the silvery swirling oil slick from the April 20 explosion and subsequent sinking of the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform is highly visible. The rig was located roughly 50 miles southeast of the coast of Louisiana.Courtesy NASA

Here's a video that offers a pretty straightforward explanation of how the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico happened, why it has been so difficult to deal with, and some of the plans that have been proposed to take care of it.
(Good looking out, Matt Q.)

May
02
2010

BP oil spill projection for May 3, 2010
BP oil spill projection for May 3, 2010Courtesy uscgd8
Chemicals known as dispersants are now being used against the ever increasing amount of oil leaking out of a deep water well head. Dispersants help break the larger masses of oil into smaller droplets which will mix into the water. These dispersants are being sprayed onto the surface slicks and are also being injected directly into the oil flowing out almost a mile under the surface.

Officials said that in two tests, that method appeared to be keeping crude oil from rising to the surface. They said that the procedure could be used more frequently once evaluations of its impact on the deepwater ecology were completed. New York Times

How do chemicals disperse the oil?

Dispersant chemicals contain solvents to assist it in dissolving into and throughout the oil mass and a surfactant which acts like soap. Surfactant molecules have one end that sticks to water and one end that sticks to oil. This, along with wave action, breaks masses of oil into droplets small enough that they stay suspended under water, rather than floating back to the surface.

Are these chemicals safe?

Such cleanup products can only be used by public authorities responding to an emergency if they are individually listed on the National Contingency Plan Product Schedule.

Many of the first dispersants used in the 70s and 80s did show high toxicity to marine organisms. However, today there is a wealth of laboratory data indicating that modern dispersants and oil/dispersant mixtures exhibit relatively low toxicity to marine organisms.
On occasions the benefit gained by using dispersants to protect coastal amenities, sea birds and intertidal marine life may far outweigh disadvantages such as the potential for temporary tainting of fish stocks. ITOPF

Here is a link to one product on their list (Oil Gone Easy Marine S200

Hard choices

According to National Geographic News, "Dispersants only alter the destination of the toxic compounds in the oil." Moving the oil off the surface protects the birds and animals along the shoreline but will increase the oil exposure for fish, shrimp, corals, and oysters. I hate to mention what hurricanes will do to this situation.

Apr
29
2010

Is deep water drilling worth the cost?

Oil spill advances toward Gulf coast: New overflight map updated 10:00 a.m. April 29, 2010 - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Oil spill advances toward Gulf coast: New overflight map updated 10:00 a.m. April 29, 2010 - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)Courtesy uscgd8
The costs of a "Drill, Baby, Drill" policy are being measured this week in lives, money, business income, and environmental damage.

BP (British Petroleum) says it is spending $6 million a day to battle a growing oil spill which resulted from a deep water oil rig accident. The oil rig, Deepwater Horizon, worth $560 million, was destroyed. Eleven missing workers are presumed dead. Crude oil continues to flow into the Gulf at about 5000 barrels (210,000 gallons) a day. Fishing and tourism businesses are fearful upon hearing that the oil spill is only a day away.

Ways to fight the 2010 Gulf oil spill

  • Stop the oil flow at the well head with remote-controlled submarines (unsuccessful so far)
  • Drop a dome over the leak and pipe oil to surface vessels (will take 2 to 4 weeks)
  • Drill relief wells to relieve pressure and plug up gushing cavity (will take months)
  • Burn the oil (oil quickly becomes too waterlogged to burn)
  • Stop the oil spill with floating booms and skim oil off surface
  • Use chemicals to make oil mix into the water

What do you think?

Please use our comments feature for news updates, ideas, or opinions.