Thanks to the web site IfItWasMyHome.com, this map gives some perspective on the size of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in the Gulf Of Mexico (click to see full-size image).
I’ve centered the spill around Kiama (NSW, Australia) to show its sheer size in relation to the Illawarra region.
You can see that if the spill area were here, it’d stretch south to around Ulladulla and Braidwood, way past Canberra almost to Tumut, and north to Cessnock and Newcastle. All of the Illawarra and Sydney areas would be well and truly covered.
That’s a massive area, even with only half the spill superimposed on the land!
Current estimates put the amount of oil being discharged from the broken well at above 1,470,000 US gallons (5 564 555 litres) per day.
Up to eight rigs of the same semi-submersible type as Deepwater Horizon are exploring for oil and gas in Australian waters right now, according to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.
If you needed evidence that we’re starting to run out of oil reserves (i.e. “peak oil”), the fact that BP found it necessary and economic to drill for oil in such a high-risk environment must surely count for something. The ocean in this area is 1.5 km deep, giving a sea-floor pressure of 150 atmospheres. And that’s just where the drilling begins – from there they’ve drilled a further 4 km down in to the ocean floor! The oil rig itself uses massive engines to ‘hover’ over the well site, a technique known as dynamic positioning. One shudders to think what would happen if the engines or the guidance system were to fail.
This level of desperation and risk-taking in our quest for more oil is a pretty good indication that something fundamental needs to change.