Offshore oil spill in Gulf of Mexico continues to worsen

The spill now covers “3,500 square miles of ocean surface area and an estimated 200,000 gallons of crude are spewing into the gulf each day”. Fishing in the region has been halted due to safety fears.

Over at the Washington Independent, Annie Lowrey has a look at a report on the spill released by Cumberland Investors on the possible economic consequences of the spill. All emphases mine.

The best case scenario:

Containment chambers are put in place and they catch the outflow from the three ruptures that are currently pouring 200,000 gallons of oil into the Gulf every day. If this works, it will take until June to complete. The chambers are 30-foot-high steel configurations that must be placed on the ocean floor at a depth of one mile. This has never been done before. If early containment is successful, the damages from this accident will be in the tens of billions. The cleanup will take years. The economic impact will be in the five states that have frontal coastline on the Gulf of Mexico: Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.

And if we’re not that lucky?

This spew stoppage takes longer to reach a full closure; the subsequent cleanup may take a decade. The Gulf becomes a damaged sea for a generation. The oil slick leaks beyond the western Florida coast, enters the Gulfstream and reaches the eastern coast of the United States and beyond. Use your imagination for the rest of the damage. Monetary cost is now measured in the many hundreds of billions of dollars.


Federal deficit spending will certainly rise by tens, and maybe hundreds, of billions as emergency appropriations are directed at larger and larger efforts to clean up this mess. At the same time, federal and state revenues tied to Gulf-region businesses will fall

We expect that the Federal Reserve will extend the timeframe that we have come to know as the “extended period” in the making of its monetary policy. We do not expect the Fed to raise interest rates at all for the rest of this year, and maybe well into next year. We expect to see the deterioration of the economic statistics for the US to reveal the onset of this oil-slick crisis in May, and the negative impact will intensify during the summer months. A “double-dip” recession probably has been made more likely by this tragedy.

Meanwhile, the Free Exchange blog at The Economist makes the case for raising the indefensibly low cost of oil in America.

[UPDATE: In a bit of irony that climate blog audiences can only fully appreciate, for a change the weather is making the oil problem worse.]


9 responses to “Offshore oil spill in Gulf of Mexico continues to worsen

  1. If I were an editorial cartoonist, I’d draw the ocean rising up and saying to the USA — you want my oil? I’ll _give_ you my oil! …..

    I wonder if hurricane season is going to start early and how much of this oil it will end up bringing onshore over this coming season.

    • That’s an interesting question. And relatedly, whether or not a Katrina-ish track storm could actually prevent the oil from going around Florida and up the East coast. Or whether a differently tracking storm could exaccerbate it. Hmmmm…

      At the beginning of the El Niño, I’d hoped that it might tamp down TCs for us, but it looks like it was an El Niño Modoki which may have done the opposite, and in any case seems to be dissipating pretty rapidly now.

  2. Pingback: 1 million gallons of oil per day [UPDATED] » Mind of Dan

  3. What a beautiful leak. I love the oily mass that bulges outwards from a bent pipe. A brown Rorschach blot of the automobile culture.

    My most fervent hope is that all efforts to stop and mitigate this masterwork are failures. The incontinent flow of hydrocarbons shall continue for the decay of all.

    I would love to see a sea of greasy Devil’s blood flowing into the ocean forever more. The spew that flew right on through.

    Then the World can move on into its next phase, the Dark Phase of death, decline and destruction. Soon, all the works of humans will decay and so too will themselves be brought to the altar of slaughter, to account for their crimes of existence.


    How can the scope of this ecological disaster be met with the silence of prayers- the silence of scientists and political organizations? No celebrity or world leader is willing to call for more action?

    It is time to look to our one world and one life force that unites and sustains us…

    We face challenges larger than corporate entity- larger than national pride or ego.. our home – this one earth is now facing destruction in a singular silence that is truly a crime against not just humanity- but all life forms.

    Where are the voices that could call out for the best minds and resources on the planet to come together and solve a problem that will devastate a huge piece of our planet and ecologies into the future in untold and ways with permanence that we can not yet understand.

    It would be an epic movie— saving the planet by working together, using the best and most immediate resources of the planet.. from all countries. Perhaps a script writer could stir a bit of action—but is it that the President is afraid that some other country would have the skills and tools to limit disaster in the American arena?

    Where are the religious leaders- that we are not asked to pray for creation and see our common fragility?

    God, by whatever the name

    Is saddened for sure

    And each soul shares the blame

    For a silence dishonoring the gift of the earth….

    Use your voice and your prayer
    How much power have the people of this planet given to a single company- which certainly can not pay the bill and restore the planet—? And how much power to a president who has such a national ego that his administration is selling out our planet’s future rather ask for international and immediate assistance and expertise?

  5. The oilmass grows like a joyous cancer full of many new kinds of life. Welcome to happy motoring.

    It’s time to drive to a slicker, browner future: put your keys in the ignition because Big Oil needs your dollars to make more oily art.

    For those who have already contributed, thank you for your kind support!

  6. More oil is spilt in the Nigerian Delta every year than in the Gulf. But no one cares! Not when it isn’t in your own backyard.

    African is being raped by the oil companies. Please check out the photos and get more information on my blog.

    We need to fight oil spills everywhere and immediately look for renewable and clean energy sources.

    Keep up the good work


  7. Pingback: Oil in the gulf [UPDATED] | Mind of Dan

  8. Pingback: Oil in the gulf [UPDATED] | Mind of Dan

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