Gulf of Mexico oil spill makes most headlines in 2010

14:07, December 28, 2010      

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Former BP CEO Tony Hayward takes a first hand look at the recovery operations aboard the Discover Enterprise drill ship in the Gulf of Mexico 55 miles (89 km) south of Venice, Louisiana in this May 28, 2010 file photo. (Xinhua/Reuters File Photo)

The Gulf of Mexico oil spill, which lasted from April to September, recently was voted as the top news story of 2010 in the Associated Press' annual poll of U.S. editors and reporters.

The accident started with an explosion and fire on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig off the Louisiana coast on April 20 and quickly emerged as the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

The U.S. government estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil were released into the Gulf of Mexico after 11 crew members were killed by the blast on the deep-sea rig.

Though the undersea gusher was killed in September, the spill has caused tremendous damage to the economy and ecosystem along the Gulf Coast and taught costly lessons to all parties involved.


The spill started when a Swiss-owned offshore oil rig leased to BP exploded into flames and sank into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, some 85 km southeast off the coast of Venice, Louisiana.

Since the onset of the spill, BP had used dispersant, oil pipelines and other means to absorb the leakage, but little success was achieved in the beginning.

After repeated failed attempts to cap the gusher, BP eventually killed the blown-out well in September with a "bottom kill" through a relief well.

An internal report by BP blamed the disaster on multiple factors, for which BP and other companies were responsible.

The factors included decisions made by "multiple companies and work teams," failure of the type of cement slurry used, and BP and Transocean workers' misinterpretation of test results, among others.

A group of U.S. scientists concluded recently that BP and its contractors failed to learn from earlier errors and showed an " insufficient consideration of risk" in the massive oil well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico.

Hearings and investigations were continuing to determine the role of BP and other companies in the Gulf of Mexico spill.

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