Can the Gulf Survive? Within days of the explosion on BP’s deepwater horizon oil platform in 2010, over 25,000 scientists, oil experts, military and individuals with a vast range of experience in oil spills and their clean-up were assembled in the Gulf region to solve an expanding crisis that was quickly categorized as a Spill of National Significance by President Obama.
The documentary gives National Geographic exclusive access to BP’s clean-up operations, the film investigates what happened to the 4.9 million barrels of oil that poured from the sea floor in one of the worst environmental disasters of all time.
From the front lines of the cleanup efforts, this documentary follows the first two months after the spill, tracking cleanup efforts as experts seek to learn the ongoing effects and BP battles the spill and the public outcry.
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill (also known as the BP oil spill) is an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico which flowed for three months in 2010, and could be continuing to seep.
The spill is the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. The oil spill stemmed from a sea-floor oil gusher that resulted from the 20 April 2010 explosion of Deepwater Horizon, which drilled on the BP operated Macondo Prospect. The explosion killed 11 people working on the platform and injured 17 others.
On 15 July 2010, the gushing wellhead was capped, after it had released about 5 million barrels of crude oil. An estimated 53,000 barrels per day escaped from the well just before it was finally capped. It is believed that the daily flow rate decreased over time, starting at about 62,000 barrels per day and decreasing as the reservoir of hydrocarbons feeding the gusher was gradually depleted.
On 19 September 2010, the relief well process was completed, and the federal government declared the well “effectively dead”. In August 2011, oil and oil sheen covering several square miles of water were reported surfacing not far from BP’s Macondo well.
Scientific analysis confirmed the oil is a chemical match for Macondo 252. The Coast Guard said the oil was too dispersed to recover. In March 2012, a “persistent oil seep” near the Macondo 252 well was reported.
The oil spill has caused extensive damage to marine and wildlife habitats and to the Gulf’s fishing and tourism industries. Oil Skimmer ships, floating containment booms, anchored barriers, sand-filled barricades along shorelines, and dispersants were used in an attempt to protect hundreds of kms of beaches, wetlands, and estuaries from the spreading oil.
Scientists have also reported immense underwater plumes of dissolved oil not visible at the surface as well as an 210 km² “kill zone” surrounding the blown well.