Thursday, Dec. 09, 2010

The BP Oil Spill

The worst oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry started on Apr. 20, after an explosion at the BP-run Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico killed 11 workers aboard and gushed close to 5 million barrels of crude into the Gulf's waters until it was sufficiently capped on July 15 (the undersea well was deemed "effectively dead" only on Sept. 19). The extent of the damage after a summer of "oil plumes" and ineffectual "top kills" is still being measured, its costs still counted. More than 6,000 birds, some 600 sea turtles and 100 dolphins perished. The fisheries of the region have been devastated, as was the Gulf coast's tourism industry. The Obama Administration took a lot of flak for not stemming the gushing oil faster, and found itself largely beholden to the technical savvy of BP's engineers. BP was public enemy no. 1 for the summer, and took an estimated $40 billion hit for plunging the U.S. in this cruddy mess. But it still managed to turn a profit in the third quarter of 2010.