The 7 Largest Oil Spills of All Time


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A look at the biggest and costliest disasters.

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The 7 Largest Oil Spills of All Time

  1. 1. The 7 Largest Oil Spills of All Time
  2. 2. 7: Mingbulak well blowout • March 2, 1992 • Well casing ruptured, and well spewed oil • 2 million barrels spilled over a two-month period • Equal to oil produced in entire country for a month • Oil caught fire and scorched the land for two months Location: Fergana Valley, Uzbekistan Photo: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
  3. 3. 6: Atlantic Empress shipwreck • July 19, 1979 • Atlantic Empress collided with the Aegean Captain; Atlantic Empress was split in two • Both ships combined to spill 2 million barrels • Owned by South Gulf Shipping Co., chartered by Mobil Oil (now part of ExxonMobil) • Cost of ship and cargo: $390 million (adj. for inflation) Location: Off Coast of Trinidad and Tobago Photo: Le Centre de documentation, de rechehrche, et d’expérimentations sur les pollutions accidentelles des eaux (Cedre) .
  4. 4. 5: Niger River delta • 1963-today • More than 4,800 reported incidents (pipe ruptures, well blowouts, sabotage) • Estimated 3 million to 13 million barrels spilled • Royal Dutch Shell will lose $13 billion in revenue this year alone from theft and sabotage in Nigeria Location: Niger River Delta, Nigeria Photo by Socialistisk Ungdom – SU (Flickr CC).
  5. 5. 4: IXTOC 1 well blowout • June 3, 1979 • Pressure release of oil resulted in rig fire; rig sank to ocean floor • Took nine months to seal well • Estimated 3.4 million barrels of oil spilled • Rig operated by Pemex • Cost for cleanup: $1.3 billion (inflation adjusted) Location: Mexican waters in Gulf of Mexico Photo: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
  6. 6. 3: Deepwater Horizon well blowout • April 20, 2010 • Methane gas pressure caused fire on rig; collapse of structure ruptured well below surface • Two months to seal well • 4.3 million barrels spilled (high estimate) • BP could end up owing as much as $94 billion for the spill Location: U.S. waters in Gulf of Mexico Photo: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
  7. 7. 2: Lakeview gusher • March 14, 1910 • Overpressurized well could not be kept in control and spewed oil for 18 months • Half of oil spewed was recovered • 9 million barrels of oil spilled, or 1.25 days of today’s production in entire United States • Largest incidental spill of all time Location: Kern County, Calif. Photo: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
  8. 8. 1: 1991 Gulf War • January-November 1991 • Retreating Iraqi army set fire to more than 600 oil wells and opened pipes into Persian Gulf in Kuwait to slow pace of coalition troops • 5% of country covered in oil from spills • 1.5 billion barrels of oil spilled on land • 4 million barrels spilled into Persian Gulf • Total oil spill equates to $54 billion in lost potential revenue (based on 1991 oil prices, adjusted for inflation) Location: Kuwait Photo: United States Air Force.
  9. 9. How You Can Fight Back Against Higher Taxes!
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