Marine Science Faculty Publications

Introduction to the Volume

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Marine oil spills, Ultra-deep, Deepwater Horizon, Ixtoc 1, Frontier oil and gas

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Ultra-deep water production of oil and gas – from depths greater than 1 mile (1500 m) – comprises an ever-increasing proportion of the world’s supply of hydrocarbons. In the Gulf of Mexico, ultra-deep production now exceeds that from shallower waters. The ultra-deep domains of the world’s oceans are home to unique and highly sensitive communities of animals, are characterized by extremes in environmental conditions (low temperatures, high pressures), and are exceedingly challenging regions in which to work safely. Deepwater Horizon (DWH) was the world’s first and largest ultra-deep water well blowout and likely not the last. In the wake of that incident, scientific research and industrial development have been focused to better understand the ultra-deep domain, to lessen the likelihood of accidents there, and to better respond to future incidents. This volume summarizes trends in the development of ultra-deep drilling, synthesizes the state of knowledge relevant to ultra-deep oil spill prevention and response, and contrasts the effects of simulated ultra-deep spills in the frontier regions of the Gulf and elsewhere. Recommendations for additional research and public policy changes to lessen the likelihood and impacts of future spills and to improve oil spill response are provided.

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Introduction to the Volume, in S. A. Murawski, C. H. Ainsworth, S. Gilbert, D. J. Hollander, C. B. Paris, M. Schlüter & D. L. Wetzel (Eds.), Scenarios and Responses to Future Deep Oil Spills: Fighting the Next War, Springer, p. 4-15