Gulf Oil Disappears


Or least about three-quarters of the 5 million barrels of oil from the BP oil spill has so far, according to a report issued today by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The report notes:

In summary, it is estimated that burning, skimming and direct recovery from the wellhead removed one quarter (25%) of the oil released from the wellhead. One quarter (25%) of the total oil naturally evaporated or dissolved, and just less than one quarter (24%) was dispersed (either naturally or as a result of operations) as microscopic droplets into Gulf waters. The residual amount — just over one quarter (26%) — is either on or just below the surface as light sheen and weathered tar balls, has washed ashore or been collected from the shore, or is buried in sand and sediments. Oil in the residual and dispersed categories is in the process of being degraded.

 The full report can be found here [pdf].

Fired BP CEO Tony Hayward ("the Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean") is probably muttering "I told you so" into his Campari and soda right about now.

NEXT: Is This Tolerance?

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  1. Gulf Oil Disappears

    Didn’t it essentially disappear in the mid-’80s?

  2. It is funny how this played out. At first team Obama played up thinking that they could use it as a political tool to beat up on oil companies. Then their opponents started agreeing with them and saying it was Obama’s Katrina.

    Not it has turned out to be not that big of a deal and both sides are quietly saying nevermind.

    1. The oil gusher was not the important aspect of this natural disaster, the slush fund is what is important. If all that money BP set aside or pledged is not spent on the actual disaster it can be used for buying votes by the Obama ‘relief czar’.

      1. I wonder how many embezzlement/fraud indictments will eventually come out of that fund. My under over is 100-200.

        1. Against BP during this administration? Will agree with you there. Against the government for mismanagement: 0.

          1. Haha! Every slush fund ends up with some government official caught with his hands in the cookie jar and generates alot of inducement for fraudulent claims. A fund this nebulous and large is sure to net quite a few bureaucrats and scamsters trying to get their piece of the action. Those who lose out will be sure to find friends in these people’s political foes, hence, indictments. I make no guess as to which teams will get the most indictments, but indictments there will be.

            Its the “free money”, stupid.

  3. Campari and Soda?

    1. Fixed. Thanks.

  4. 78% of the oil was absorbed by walruses. And otters.

    1. Don’t forget about those millions of dead fish. No, wait . . .

    2. Those walruses and otters now have bitchin’ hairstyles, though.

  5. pretty much like IXTOC 1 and pretty much as I said a couple of months ago.

    1. For which Pemex paid minimally and the government glossed over. Fishermen should thank their lucky stars they live in America.

  6. “Not it has turned out to be not that big of a deal and both sides are quietly saying nevermind.”

    Except that it will never go away. Rules are being rewritten now that could devastate the industry in the gulf. Mistakes were made, but god forbid a politician actually look at the findings and base future action off of what actually happened. No, its better to go completely overboard and impose vast restrictions and qualifiers that have massive consequences, then blame the lobbyists when they convince the government to come back to reality.

    Its just all a big game in DC.

    1. My one year waiting period on all laws keeps looking like a better and better idea.

  7. Can’t say that I’m any happier about oil in “microscopic droplets” than in huge globs. As for “degrading”, what are the breakdown products?

    BP f****d up. While I don’t think “better regulation” would have prevented what happened, I still think BP has an obligation to restore the status quo ante or go broke trying.

    1. You should be happier about microscopic droplets. The bacteria are eating those. Granted, the byproducts are methane, H2S and CO2, but its not much worse than that oil being produced and used in automobiles in damage to the atmosphere. And pelicans don’t die from microscopic oil, they die from big globs.

      People will forever argue about status quo ante was before this spill. In the end, it will all be settled by the Supreme Court 20 years in the future.

      1. Since microscopic droplets can actually be injested, I still don’t see that as a huge improvement, since large globs can more easily be sucked up.

        However, your point about bacterial activity is valid. Eventually, the damage will repair through natural processes. In the interim, there will be damage to other’s economic interests as well as the general enjoyment of the Gulf of Mexico, which is why I am loath to let BP off the hook. [TBS, keep in mind that the various state-owned oil companies around the world have environmental track records that make BP look like vegan organic farmers.]

        “In the end, it will all be settled by the Supreme Court 20 years in the future.

        Aren’t you being a teensy bit optimistic? 😉

        1. I have only the Exxon Valdez timeline on which to base my own, 😉

    2. The by-product of the dispersant probably looks a lot like vegetable oil or animal fat. Imagine your dish-water after you wash out a frying pan full of vegetable oil. Now go dump it in an olympic sized swimming pool and you’ll be pretty close to the local effect. The shore effect will be significantly less.

  8. So what are you trying to say? That the Gulf Oil Spill isn’t one of the worst environmental disasters ever? That the moratorium on coastal oil drilling was an overreaction by Obama? That we don’t understand nature nearly as well as we think we do?

    I think the ocean is just racist.

  9. I was there last weekend visiting family (Pensacola/Navarre Beach area) and at least on the part of the beach where we went to party, there was no sign of oil. Just white sand and clear blue-green water. Maybe we just found a lucky spot, but I was pleasantly surprised at how untouched it looked.

    1. Pablo:

      No. Pensacola got it as bad as anywhere in FL. Here in the Panhandle, we keep going to St. George Island and Cape San Blas and saying things like “I’ve never seen the water so clear”.

      1. Sorry, technically P-cola is the Panhandle, I meant the Big Bend.

  10. This is very nice to hear, but let’s not lose all perspective. This was still a big deal and a very bad thing to have happen. And a quarter of the oil is still a lot. Yes, it will go away eventually, probably sooner than most people think, but this is not a situation of mountains out of mole hills.

    1. Understood. It would be better if the leak never happened. But these things do get blown out of proportion, be it an oil spill or a hurricane or whatever, it’s always the apocalypse while it is going on.

  11. “the Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean”

    Hayward was right. Throughout the “catastrophe,” we’ve been given conflicting information regarding the amount of oil “spilled” (variously described as gallons, barrels, oodles, shit-loads) but I haven’t seen one report that places the amount of oil released in proportion to the amount of water in the Gulf. “A drop in the ocean” probably seemed too cruel and simplistic to all those sensationalist reporters who have made a nice living reducing important issues to the simplistic and sensational.


    1. Its the circle of life.

  13. You mean carbon-based organic matter decays? Color me amazed!

  14. It is very difficult to visualize just how big the ocean is, particularly for people who do not deal with it much.

    A few weeks ago a friend of mine was screaming at me that talking about how much oil the ocean can handle having dumped into it is like asking how much bleach you can drink. He was unwilling to accept that there is, in fact, an amount of bleach that is safe to drink and that that amount is probably a larger proportion of a persons body weight than the oil spill is of the gulf of Mexico (not that this makes the oil spill anything other than a very bad thing).

    1. The answer to “how much bleach can you drink?” has to hover around the concentration of chlorine that is routinely put into thousands of municipal water supplies to make their water potable.

  15. And you believe this “report”?

    WTF is wrong with you people?

  16. And you believe this “report”?

    I do, because I believe that the political interests of the ruling class would be served by having this crisis stretch out a little longer, so they can pass more legislation.

    They’ve already taken their political damage from their inept, tone-deaf response, but they haven’t had a chance to really make hay out of it. Its really the worst of both worlds for Our Masters in DC.

    1. The feds already got their slush fund. Now that it looks like the spill is almost fully contained, they need to make it look like all of their intervention was effective. It would also be bad if BP was forced into bankruptcy and left the feds holding more of the bag. We’ll hear a lot more stories in the coming weeks on how things are improving, how it’s safe to eat the seafood now, etc.

  17. Wait, so Rush Limbaugh was right?

  18. Christ, the only thing right about Rush is he’s ALWAYS WRONG!

  19. After months of articles about an ocean filling with spilled oil, how many articles will we get about an ocean that recovers on its own?

  20. Thanks you Mr. Bailey

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