One Hundred Days Later, Oil Is Disappearing From The Gulf

One hundred days after the Deepwater Horizon rig was destroyed, response teams are having trouble finding oil slicks in the Gulf of Mexico:

The oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico appears to be dissolving far more rapidly than anyone expected, a piece of good news that raises tricky new questions about how fast the government should scale back its response to the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

The immense patches of surface oil that covered thousands of square miles of the gulf after the April 20 oil rig explosion are largely gone, though sightings of tar balls and emulsified oil continue here and there.

Reporters flying over the area Sunday spotted only a few patches of sheen and an occasional streak of thicker oil, and radar images taken since then suggest that these few remaining patches are quickly breaking down in the warm surface waters of the gulf.

John Amos, president of SkyTruth, an environmental advocacy group that sharply criticized the early, low estimates of the size of the BP leak, noted that no oil had gushed from the well for nearly two weeks.

“Oil has a finite life span at the surface,” Mr. Amos said Tuesday, after examining fresh radar images of the slick. “At this point, that oil slick is really starting to dissipate pretty rapidly.”

It’s not entirely good news, there are still concerns about oil that may be underneath the surface, and the spills long-term impact on coastal wetlands, but, for the moment at least, it looks like we’ve gotten some good news. I’ll take it.

FILED UNDER: Environment, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Brummagem Joe says:

    OMG what will Brian Williams do to frighten everyone now. In fact very little of the oil has come ashore and it appears that much of it (maybe 40%) has already evaporated. I’ve been watching the nightly hysteria fest from Williams and co for months where no awful adjective goes unused, then they switch to some shots of the beaches which you’d expect to be a sea of black based on the commentary and what do you see? Almost totally clear beaches. The fact is that luck and good management have been very effective in reducing the impact of this huge spill.

  2. wr says:

    Reducing the impact on shore, anyway. No one has any idea what that oil is doing in the ocean, or where it’s gone. I’d like to think this is good news, but it seems a little early to break ou the party hats.