Deep-Sea News

ECO Quick Facts: Deepwater Horizon

On April 20th, 2018, it was the anniversary of Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster. Here is a quick reminder of what happened 8 years ago:

  1. The Deepwater Horizon oil drilling platform was located approximately 44 miles offshore from the coast of Louisiana. (1, 2, 3).
  2. An explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform occurred on April 20th, 2010, killing 11 workers and causing the platform to sink. (1, 2, 3).
  3. The wellhead was located around 5,000 feet deep in the Gulf of Mexico. (1, 3, 4).
  4. Approximately 200 million gallons of oil were released from the wellhead and approximately 172 million of those gallons entered the Gulf of Mexico. (5, 6).
  5. Oil flowed for 87 days until the well was capped (3).
  6. Emergency responders applied approximately 1.8 million gallons of dispersants of which around 0.77 million gallons of dispersants were injected directly into the wellhead (5, 7).
  7. Of the 3,540 miles of Gulf shoreline, 1,313 miles (37%) were oiled (8, 9).
  8. Louisiana received 64% of the oil that made it to the coast, landing primarily in wetlands (9).
  9. Approximately 100 million pounds of oiled waste material were removed from sandy beaches (3, 10).

Provided by Sea Grant in the Gulf of Mexico


  1. National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling. (2010). The Use of Surface and Subsea Dispersants During the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, Staff Working Paper No. 4. Retrieved November 23, 2015, from here.
  2. US Coast Guard. (2011). On Scene Coordinator Report Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Submitted to the National Response Team, September 2011. Retrieved October 10, 2014.
  3. Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment Trustees. (2016). Deepwater Horizon oil spill: Final Programmatic Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan and Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement. Retrieved October 20, 2016, from here.
  4. Fisher, C. R., Hsing, P. Y., Kaiser, C. L., Yoerger, D. R., Roberts, H.H., Shedd, W. W., Cordes, E.E., Shank, T.M., Berlet, S.P., Saunders, M.G., Larcom, E. A., & Brooks, J.M. (2014). Footprint of Deepwater Horizon blowout impact to deep-water coral communities. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(32), 11744-11749.
  5. Lehr, W., Bristol, S., & Possolo, A. (2010). Oil budget calculator Deepwater Horizon. Retrieved from Federal Interagency Solutions Group, Oil budget calculator science and engineering team. 
  6. Griffiths, S. K. (2012). Oil Release from Macondo Well MC252 Following the Deepwater Horizon Accident. Environmental Science and Technology, 46, 5616-5622.
  7. Kujawinski, E. B., Soule, M. C. K., Valentine, D. L., Boysen, A. K., Longnecker, K., & Redmond, M. C. (2011). Fate of dispersants associated with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Environmental Science & Technology, 45, 1298-1306.
  8. Michel, J., Owens, E. H., Zengel, S., Graham, A., Nixon, Z., Allard, T., … Taylor, E. (2013). Extent and degree of shoreline oiling: Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, Gulf of Mexico, USA. PLOS ONE 8 (6), e65087. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0065087
  9. Nixon, Z., Zengel, S., Baker, M., Steinhoff, M., Fricano, G., Rouhani, S., & Michel, J. (2016). Shoreline oiling from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 107(1), 170-178. 
  10. Michel, J, Fegley, S, & Dahlin, J. (2015). Deepwater Horizon sand beach injury assessment. Seattle, WA. U.S. Dept. of Interior, Deepwater Horizon Response & Restoration, Admin. Record. DWH Shoreline NRDA Technical Working Group Report. Retrieved from here.

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