Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill
UPDATE: As of Monday, "A Whale" is not ready to take on the Gulf oil spill after "inconclusive" testing, according to a statement from TMT Shipping. The world's largest oil skimmer has arrived in the Gulf of Mexico, and has been conducting a 48-hour test since yesterday to see how it fares in cleaning up the April 20 oil leak, which continues to spew millions of gallons of crude into the Gulf daily. Straightforwardly named "A Whale," the Taiwanese vessel is a retrofitted oil tanker from TMT Shipping. And it - is - colossal. According to its makers, the 10-story high and 3.5-football-fields long vessel is able to process up to 21 million gallons of oil-dirtied water a day. 500 skimming boats would take 2 months to collect the same amount. Read More
Yet more bad news about the Deepwater Horizon oil leak: The amount of oil pouring into the Gulf of Mexico is more than ten times greater than previously thought, according to a recent analysis.
Recently, BP succumbed to mounting pressure to release their underwater video of the leak so outside experts could use it to make estimates. NPR took them up on it: they assembled a group of experts to analyze the video. Their conclusion? The oil leak is already far worse than the Exxon Valdez: Whereas the official estimate pegs the BP leak at 5,000 barrels a day, NPR's analysis concludes that 70,000 barrels have been leaking each day, plus or minus 20 percent.Read More
It's a well-documented point of modern psychology that people tend to have a hard time wrapping their heads around very large numbers -- for instance, really knowing what a million means versus a billion -- and the vastness of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill tests our comprehension. What, for instance, does it mean that 2500 square miles of ocean surface are currently covered with oil, or that under the worst case scenario, we'll lose 1.8 million barrels? In short, how much oil are we losing, in terms we can understand? Two people have given us tools to help visualize these vast amounts. Google engineer Paul Rademacher, who started the Google Earth browser plug-in and currently works as a Google Maps engineering manager, has harnessed the power of Google Maps to illustrate how much oil was lost in terms of familiar cities: In the graphic above, you can see the DC metropolitan area, and other overlays include New York, San Francisco, and London. You can check out his map tool here. Information is Beautiful's David McCandless has given us another, after the jump, which further underscores what the oil loss means in terms of the world's oil consumption and our remaining oil reserves. Read More
The oil spill that, for more than a week now, has been growing in the Gulf of Mexico is getting worse and five times faster than originally estimated. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is now saying, after closer investigation, that the spill that started with the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon rig is leaking oil at a rate of 5000 barrels per day, versus the original estimate of 1000 barrels a day. While that doesn't put the spill on the scale of the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill, it has already reached and exceeded the size of Rhode Island. That's not some past oil spill that happened in Rhode Island, mind you; that's the actual U.S. state.Read More