Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Paper Topic: Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

The idea of embarking on deepwater drilling practices is threatening the immediate ecosystem in such habitats. While assessing the situation, it is evident that the Earth's living organisms are likely to suffer long-lasting consequences from the oil drilling projects. It is thus asserted that people should be aware of the replication associated with these drilling activities or any other form of oil mining since a bigger percentage of the benefits accrued to just a few people. The rest of the population subjected to depending on the oil products to run their automobiles and other machines at the expense of their immediate environment. Oil drilling activities also lead to adverse impacts on the ecosystem; hence, the need to adopt alternative measures to curb the situation. It is due to the potential environmental danger that it poses and likely to take long before the situation salvaged.

            It is also blamed for the continued destruction of Mother Nature and can only take long to replenish it back to its former state. Despite several attempts made, it's likely to take long before meaningful results attained. The continued pressure on existing resources is thus bound to hurt the marine life due to pollution from chemicals as well as siltation as they find their way in the ecosystem. The marine life is thus in danger of extinction as witnessed in some regions across the world. At times, this can come about as a result of oil spills that could, on the other hand, inhibit the amount of oxygen needed to provide an adequate environment able to support marine life (Liu, 2011).

            It is, therefore, apparent that people are likely to go without noting the dilemma experienced while attempting to excavate oil. Many are expected to change the way they approach issues to bring about a difference. As a result of such initiatives, this has seen a rise in the number of people willing to participate in environmental conservation. Planktons can as well fail to grow only impacting the fish population negatively basically because they act as food for marine life. There are instances when overfishing has been encountered leading to decrease in fish population.

            Basically, the effects are likely to be felt both in the terrestrial and marine environment. It comes along with a list of adverse effects to the environment of which the consequences cannot be reversed. The construction of the pipes would also result to the release of sediments into the water body, especially during construction of water crossing, as well as washout.  It could as well have an impact on sea creatures which feed on the substances deposited into the water directly or indirectly through predation in the food chain where fish and other creatures feed on the concentrations directly leading to death or spreading toxins to the predators. The pipelines running through many places including across rivers and streams would lead to siltation on the river banks causing an increase in water temperature, especially for the fish.

            The oil contains a variety of compounds that come from organic matter which has decomposed. These compounds are considered harmful to living things. Oil spills can adversely affect the entire or part of living organisms, that is, when a small sea creatures die from exposure to oil spills the fish that feed on the animals may have to find an alternative food, and this could definitely affect the food chain. This contamination can go further into changing the entire food web whereby the people who feed on the seafood also get affected. The impact can be even greater when the amount of oil spilled grows, and therefore this becomes a matter of concern if the action is going to salvage the entire ecosystem. The effect of oil spills can be reduced using chemicals such as dispersants that help break down the oil spills into small droplets. Dispersants can be used to help prevent large quantities of spilled oil from drifting onto the shorelines where cleaning up oil is challenging.

            20th April 2010, saw a Deepwater Horizon Oil drilling rig owned by BP, which was about to come to its completion exploded as a result of the escape of the uncontained oil and natural gas causes fire. This activity led into one of the largest oil spills in the United States waters. The spill took approximately five days. In this case, the explosion happened as a result of the weakness of the core of the ring which was owned by offshore-oil-drilling company Transocean. The base could no longer hold the pressure as they were made up of a concrete mixture in which used nitrogen gas in speeding up it is curing. The natural gas that was released by the core traveled up the Deepwater rig where ignition took place killing and injuring 11 and 17 workers in that order. The estimate of the oil that was escaping the damaged well as a result of the explosion was approximately a thousand barrels each day, which according to the United States Government rose to about sixty thousand barrels each day (Liu, 2011)..

The explosion of the Deepwater Horizon mobile drilling rig

The oil spillage covered a significant part of the ocean floor, and it traveled many miles in the deep-sea and came to the surface through about a mile of water column it then created a massive slick on the surface of the sea. Response to the uncontrollable huge amount of oil spillage caused additional environmental consequences, which included the use of unprecedented chemical dispersants at both the surface of the sea and the wellhead. The spill causes the effect to a good number of industries with which people of that region deeply depended on. Over a third of the water that was owned by the government were closed down to fishing at the peak of the incident, and this was because of fear of contamination. The incident left a significant number of people without work to do. Approximately 12,000 people were left unemployed even after the district law court reverse the moratorium on offshore that was enforced by the US president. The BP created twenty billion US dollars as a compensation fund, which was used to compensate those who were the victims of the spill. The long-term negative impact on the active population and the health of the surrounding habitat of the Gulf fisheries did not come out clear four years after the happening.

The Image shows the area covered by oil slick 5 days after the explosion

The oil spillage plastered thousand of sea mammals, sbirds, and turtles. Some incidences were not usually like Brucella contagion in dolphins that were stranded this assures people that the contamination which resulted from the oil spill caused a vulnerability in cetaceans to the rest the danger that is posed by the remainder of the environment (United States, 2010). The birds were vulnerable, particularly on the effects of the oil, and this fact made a significant number of these birds perish as a result of ingesting oil when they were trying to clear way oil from their body or because the oil were interfering with the ability of their bodies to regulate temperature.  

A dead bird that is covered in oil that came from the Deepwater Horizon Oil spill

Taking a look at how the Deepwater Horizon spill is build-up shows how this offshore oil industry's operations are handled and how difficult it is to regulate its activities. The industry started operating in the (MC 252) Macondo Prospect which was estimated to reserve 50 million barrels of oil in 1,500 meters of the deep water. The depth and the volume that prospected did not qualify the extraction of oil for the tax break under the Deepwater Royalty Relief Act of 1995. The cost of capital needed in operation proved to be high above, and the global market demonstrated high price in oil, which was promised as it showed that this operation was to generate a significant profit for BP. Despite the effort that was made to accomplish this activity, it never came out as planned as it suffered a big blowout at the wellhead. The explosion ended up killing 11 people who were aboard the ring. The explosion also triggered oil spillage that could not be controlled and which proved impossible to contain for almost four months.

In June 2010, the United States Justice Department formed "a formal civil and criminal investigation" unit which was responsible for the investigation of the oil spill. BP together with Transocean, and Anadarko who was considered as the minority owners of the well in violation of the Oil Pollution Act and the Clean Water Act respectively. BP agreed to settle claims of the plaintiff for the victims of the oil spill in May 2012. The claim was at least 7.8 billion US dollars. They also agreed to provide medical attention and care for twenty-one years. BP was forced to remain liable for some additional claims.

A lot remains indeterminate about the federal trials against BP that were being investigated. The delay in the assessments of the damages and compensation of the same have all has been put in line to benefit the federal but not the public who also suffered significant injuries. The legal cost that BP has to incur in the process can easily cancel out with the corporate profits that they get and they can just label that as part of the operating cost of doing business. In short, the more time this process takes, the more BP achieves more from it (United States, 2011).


It is important that the responsible regulatory body and process and the policy that are made are well implemented so that they can see and recognize and highlight the fundamental all tragedy that is happening on the southern coast of America. This is because as we have already seen oil spillage is a dangerous activity that is responsible for the reduced resilience of the natural resources that are found in the region. It is also responsible for environmental change like impact on the climate which is exacerbated by the emission of carbon in the air. Unless this cycle that is existing of flawed regulation together with the perverse incentive broken, then it will be hard break the cycle of the ecological degradation.


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