To determine a best guess as to the amount of oil that is gushing from the seafloor of the Gulf of Mexico from the explosion of the BP Deepwater Horizon on 20-Apr-2010, we averaged several of the existing estimates, which themselves range widely.

Initially after the oil disaster, BP estimated the oil leak to be 1,000 barrels per day (42,000 gallons per day). Shortly afterward, the US govt. (Coast Guard) estimated the oil leak to be 5,000 barrels per day (210,000 gallons per day). Other subsequent estimates range from 40,000 to 70,000 barrels per day, the later seemingly carrying some scientific weight whereby a mechanical engineering professor from Purdue University used a method called ‘particle image velocimetry’ to come to his conclusion.

Not knowing exactly who to believe, we must draw our own personal conclusions based on our observations, instincts, and research (which should be true of just about anything in life – don’t believe everything you hear – question what you hear).

I estimated that the average reporting on this oil spill leads me to conclude that perhaps 25,000 barrels are leaking per day or 1,050,000 gallons – call it 1 million gallons per day.

Assuming that this may be somewhat close to accurate, the total amount that has spilled as of this day, day 36, 26-May-2010, is 900,000 barrels or 37,800,000 gallons of oil. One barrel of oil is equivalent to 42 gallons.

BP Oil Spill Equivalent Visualization

To visualize the amount of oil that is spilling, and has spilled so far, I have calculated a few equivalent visualizations.

Total oil spilled so far is equivalent to filling 9,000 oil tanker road-hauler trucks, which if all lined up in a row driving on the freeway, with a one truck length gap between each one for safety (just to make it somewhat real), would reach a length of about 120 miles!

The oil spilling each day is equivalent to filling 117 oil tanker trucks.

If this were heating oil, it could have heated 47,250 homes during the winter.

If refined to gasoline, it would become nearly 18 Million gallons, which would provide a driving distance of 430 Million miles of a vehicle getting 24 miles per gallon. That is enough to travel 17,262 times around the earth, 900 round trips to the moon, or even a little more than 2 round trips to the sun!

The total oil spilled so far is equivalent to filling about 2,100 backyard in-ground swimming pools, or about 58 swimming pools per day.

Visualize the size of a football field, but one that is filled to a height that reaches 105 feet tall! (For those who enjoy the sport of football, like I do)

For you hockey fans, the total oil spilled so far equals the amount of ice in 4,453 official NHL hockey rinks.

3 Trillion golf balls. 2 Trillion tennis balls. 20 Million basket balls.

We will see where it goes from here. These numbers will continue to add up quickly unless and until this gusher is plugged.

BP Oil Spill update Day 53

Based on the estimation described above as about 1 Million gallons per day. Also factoring in BP’s claim of recapturing 460,000 gallons per day beginning 7-Jun.


1,281,190 barrels

53,810,000 gallons

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