Large-scale oil production has been around for generations, but the process has resulted in a number of debacles - from explosions to tanker collisions. Today, the condition monitoring technology exists to prevent costly, dangerous accidents from happening. With this in mind, here's a look at three of the most impactful spills of all time:
April 20, 2010 - BP oil spill
The most infamous spill of our century is Deepwater Horizon, also known as the BP oil spill. The explosion occurred on board the BP-contracted Transocean Ltd. Deepwater Horizon oil rig, spilling approximately 210 million gallons of oil (the U.S. government estimated 4.2 million barrels of oil were spilled) into the Gulf of Mexico. Of the 126 workers aboard, 11 were killed. After three days of the U.S. Coast Guard trying to put out the flames, the oil rig sunk. Months later, BP agreed to create a $20 billion fund to help the victims. It wasn't until 85 days after the original explosion that a new cap is installed, which completely stopped the flow of oil into the gulf.
March 24, 1989 - Exxon Valdez Oil Spill
Prior to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the Exxon Valdez debacle was the largest single oil spill in U.S. coastal waters. On March 24, 1989, the tanker Exxon Valdez grounded on Bigh Reef in Alaska's Prince William Sound, rupturing its hull and spouting nearly 11 million gallons of Prudhoe Bay oil into a remote body of water. In the weeks and months that followed, the oil spread over a wide area in Prince William Sound, resulting in an unprecedented cleanup.
June 3, 1979 - Ixtoc 1
Ixtoc 1 collapsed after a pressure buildup ignited and caused an accidental explosion, leaking 140 million gallons of crude into the Bay of Campeche off the coast of Mexico. To slow the flow of oil from the damaged well, mud, steel, iron and lead balls were dropped down its shaft. On the Texas side of the gulf, boomers and skimmers were put in place in the water to protect bays and lagoons of the Barrier Islands. The spill lasted 10 months.
The take-home message? Moving forward, it's key for businesses to utilize equipment condition monitoring, crack detection and fatigue monitoring to steer clear of problems before they occur at oil and gas extraction and transportation sites.