Further and deeper: the future of deepwater drilling in the aftermath of deepwater horizon disaster
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On 19 September 2010 BP's illfated Macondo 252 well was declared "effectively dead," almost five months since it began to gush oil into the Gulf of Mexico. What is now acknowledged to be the world's largest accidental oil spill followed an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig on 20 April which resulted in 11 fatalities. The rig subsequently sank and the well discharged oil for 87 days at rates in excess of 62,000 barrels of oil per day (b/d) until a temporary plug finally stopped the flow on 15 July. It is estimated that 4.9m barrels of oil were vented from the well (although around 800,000 barrels of this figure were captured through the use of containment caps so that 'only' 4.1m barrels were spilled into the ocean). To provide a sense of perspective, the spill is equivalent to around 16 times that which spewed from the stricken tanker Exxon Valdez off Alaska in 1989.