BP oil spill: Disaster by numbers

The scale of the BP oil spill can be hard to take in. Now, five months on, these shocking figures reveal the extent of the devastation. Compiled by Alice-Azania Jarvis

Tuesday 14 September 2010 00:00 BST

11 platform workers were killed when the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded on 20 April. Their bodies have never been found, despite a three-day Coast Guard search operation. Seventeen others were injured.

36 The number of hours for which Deepwater Horizon burned before it sank on the morning of 22 April 2010.

4.9 million The total barrels of crude oil released before the leak was capped on 15 July. This makes Deepwater Horizon the biggest oil spill to have occurred in US-controlled waters, exceeding the Exxon Valdez spill of 1989, which released 750,000 barrels.

4 million The number of barrels of crude oil it would take, according Harry Roberts of Louisiana State University, to "wipe out marine life deep at sea near the leak and elsewhere in the Gulf" as well as "along hundreds of miles of coastline".

1,000 BP's initial prediction of the leak in barrels per day. The real figure was 53,000.

5,000 The depth below sea-level, in feet, at which Deepwater Horizon was drilling at the time of the explosion. It could operate in waters of up to 8,000ft in depth and drill as far down 30,000ft.

3,850 The square-mile spread of the leaked oil, which had landed along 125 miles of Louisiana's coast by 4 June. Three weeks later, oil began to wash up on Pensacola Beach in Florida and at the nearby Gulf Islands National Seashore nature reserve.

50-60 The percentage of the oil spill thought to have remained on the water. 35 per cent was thought able to evaporate.

3 The percentage of that oil that it was possible to skim off. The remainder had to be removed through the use of other methods, such as burning, chemical dispersion and direct extraction.

125 The weight, in tonnes, of the containment dome placed over the largest leak. Oil was then piped to a storage vessel on the surface. BP's initial containment strategy, this failed when leaking gas combined with cold water to create methane hydrate crystals, blocking the pipe way.

92,000 The number of clean-up suggestions received by BPs dedicated oil spill helpline between May and June. 320 were categorised as promising. In the meantime, some 170 US Coast Guard vessels, 7,500 employees, and 2,000 volunteers had been engaged in grassroots clean-up activity.

4,768 The number of dead animals collected as of 13 August: 4,080 of these were birds and 525 sea turtles.

8,332-plus The number of species living within the vicinity of the oil spill. This includes the endangered Kemp's Ridley turtle, as well as more than 1,200 fish, 200 birds, 1,400 molluscs, 1,500 crustaceans, and 29 marine mammals and three other sea turtle specimens.

$2.5 billion Initial estimated cost of the oil spill to the US fishing industry.

$1 billion The value of the seafood harvested in the Gulf in 2008.

$23billion The estimated cost, according to the US Travel Association, of the oil spill to the Gulf Coast tourist industry, which currently employs upwards of 400,000 people and generates $34bn revenue each year.

$25million The amount donated by BP to Florida in order to promote its coastline. $15m million more was allocated to Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi individually.

$100million The amount allocated by BP to compensate those put out of work as a result of the spill.

23.5 The percentage of United States' oil production comprised by offshore drilling.

143 The number of oil spill exposure-related health cases recorded by the Louisiana Department of Health between April and June. Cases included 108 working on the clean-up efforts; 35 were working on a voluntary basis. Symptoms included dizziness, vomiting, nausea, headaches, and chest pains.

58,000 The number of people employed by the oil industry in Louisiana alone. Oil accounts for about 17 per cent of all Louisiana jobs. Now that a six-month moratorium exists on drilling deep-water drilling, these people face unemployment.

10-40 The range in percentage decline in reported custom at BP petrol stations post-spill. Most aren't, in fact, owned by BP.

847,730 The number of people who have "liked" the Facebook page "Boycott BP".

468,157 The number of people who have "liked" the FaceBook page "RIP SpongeBob, who died in an oil spill cause of BP".

$105 billion The total value lost by BP between April and June. Investors saw the worth of their holdings fall to $27.02, representing a loss of almost 54 per cent. In July the company's loss in market value totalled $60bn, a 35 per cent decline since the explosion. BP posted second-quarter losses – the company's first for almost two decades – of $17bn.

$50 million The estimated cost of the PR offensive which was launched by BP at the end of May. The campaign saw Anne Kolton, a former spokesman for the former US vice presidentDick Cheney, hired as head of media relations in the United States and included a series of TV adverts featuring an apologetic Tony Hayward, then CEO of the company, promising to "make this right".

130 The number of lawsuits lodged against BP, Transocean, Cameron International Corporation, or Halliburton Energy Services within a month of Deepwater Horizon's sinking.

220 The number of lawsuits filed against BP alone within two months.

5 The number of New Orleans judges who have had to excuse themselves from hearing oil-spill cases because of conflicts of interest (such as share ownership).

$10 billion The figure at which BP's liability for non-clean-up costs should be capped, according to a group of campaigning Democrats. This would represent a massive increase from the current legal limit of $75m, which was introduced by the Oil Pollution Act of 1990.

$20 billion The size of BP's "oil spill response fund", created following a meeting between BP executives and Barack Obama. Claims on the fund, which is being chaired by Ken Feinberg, began to be accepted on 23 August. Within a week, almost 19,000 were submitted. Around $38.5m in claims has been paid out so far.

193 The number of pages in BP's official investigation into events leading to the Deepwater Horizon fire and subsequent oil spill, as released on their website on last week. The company took some responsibility for the disaster, though it also pointed to the failings of the Transocean drilling company crew, who, they say, incorrectly interpreted a pressure test, and the cement contractors, Halliburton.

23 The number of countries who offered to aid the clean-up efforts. In total, 70 offers were received from across those 23. Eight were accepted, involving the assistance of 12 different countries.

$4 million The amount donated by private charities and companies (many of them oil companies) to tackle the impact of the spill.

$69 billion The bill sent to BP by the Obama administration for the clean up effort.

$10 million The estimated size of former BP CEO Tony Hayward's pension, which is to be paid out in £500,000 annual instalments. He resigned on 26 July with one-year's pay of £1m and was replaced by Bob Dudley, an American citizen.

21 The number of years since the Exxon Valdez spill off the coast of Alaska. Puddles of oil can still be found in Prince William Sound on the state's South Coast. It is not known how long the fallout of Deepwater Horizon will last.

28,400 The number of people, to date, who have been involved in the clean-up operation. More than 4,050 ships and dozens of aircraft continue to work on the project.

$8 billion The estimated total cost of the spill and subsequent clean-up operations to BP. The company plans to sell around $30bn-worth of assets in order to meet its obligations.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in