Marine Science Faculty Publications

Applications of Science and Engineering to Quantify and Control the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

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oil collection, science-based decision making, well control, Gulf of Mexico, spill of national significance

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The unprecedented engagement of scientists from government, academia, and industry enabled multiple unanticipated and unique problems to be addressed during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. During the months between the initial blowout on April 20, 2010, and the final well kill on September 19, 2010, researchers prepared options, analyses of tradeoffs, assessments, and calculations of uncertainties associated with the flow rate of the well, well shut in, killing the well, and determination of the location of oil released into the environment. This information was used in near real time by the National Incident Commander and other government decision-makers. It increased transparency into BP’s proposed actions and gave the government confidence that, at each stage proposed, courses of action had been thoroughly vetted to reduce risk to human life and the environment and improve chances of success.

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Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, v. 109, issue 50, p. 20222-20228