NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Here's a look by the numbers at the nation's worst offshore oil disaster, which occurred in April 2010 when BP PLC's Macondo well blew, resulting in an explosion and deaths aboard the drilling rig Deepwater Horizon. The rig was owned by Switzerland-based Transocean Ltd., operating under contract to BP.
DEPTH OF WELLHEAD:
Approximately 5,000 feet under the Gulf of Mexico's surface. The difficulties of capping the well at such a depth proved to be a huge obstacle as corporate and government scientists and engineers struggled to shut the flow of oil and natural gas. The well is located about 50 miles southeast of the Louisiana coast. It has not been reopened.
NUMBER OF DEATHS:
Eleven workers were killed in the blowout that exploded onto the surface of the Deepwater Horizon the night of April 20, 2010. Their bodies were never recovered. The rig burned for two days before sinking to the Gulf bottom.
HOW LONG OIL AND NATURAL GAS SPEWED FROM THE WELL:
Approximately three months passed before a temporary cap was successfully placed over the well on July 15, 2010.
HOW MUCH OIL?
Depends on whom you ask. Government experts estimate 4.2 million barrels, or 176 million gallons, escaped, while BP argues for an estimate of 2.45 million barrels, or 103 million gallons. Both sides agree that 34 million gallons was captured before it could pollute coastal marshes and fishing grounds. U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier hasn't ruled yet on the quantity of oil to be used in calculating fines and penalties.
The maximum fine permitted under the Clean Water Act when a company is found grossly negligent for an oil spill is $4,300 per barrel of oil. Barbier, on Thursday, ruled that BP was grossly negligent. If he finds that 4.2 million barrels spilled, it could mean close to $18 billion in Clean Water Act fines.
BP's to-date estimate of its costs to clean up after the spill and payments to businesses and residents affected by the spill is $24 billion. BP has estimated its total liability to resolve the spill could be as high as $42 billion.