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Mexico oil spill could have powered 1,800 ships for year

According to James J. Corbett, professor of marine policy at the University of Delaware (UD) College of Earth, Ocean and Environment.

world Updated: Jun 10, 2010 11:23 IST

If all the oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico had been used for fuel, it could have powered 38,000 cars, 3,400 trucks and 1,800 ships for a full year, says a new report.

It is based on an estimated spill rate of 19,000 barrels of oil per day, according to James J. Corbett, professor of marine policy at the University of Delaware (UD) College of Earth, Ocean and Environment.

Corbett works on energy and environmental solutions for transportation. He has launched a website that reports the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in terms of uses of the lost fuel on a daily basis.

Visitors to the website can choose the spill rate they believe is most accurate from a range of reported estimates, and the website will automatically calculate how many cars, trucks and ships could have been powered for a year, based on Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

By May 5 (15 days after the spill), the oil lost could have fuelled 470 container ships serving New York and New Jersey ports for a year.

By May 31 (41 days after the spill), the lost energy could have fuelled one freight truck on 17 trips across all 4 million miles of US highway.

Corbett says he developed the website to help put the oil spill in a perspective to which everyday users of petroleum, including most Americans, can relate.

Transportation activities consume about two-thirds of all petroleum in the US -- more than 20 billion barrels per day, according to Corbett.

Gasoline for automobiles accounts for about two-thirds of US total transportation energy, diesel fuels power most of our goods movement and most international containerised cargoes are delivered by ships - the largest vehicles ever built.

"Energy resources offshore are being explored because each of us petroleum consumers is demanding more," Corbett says.

The website also may help us decide how to reduce risks of future oil spills.

"Drilling this exploratory well by the Deepwater Horizon was an extremely high-risk proposition," Corbett says, according to a Delaware release.

"At $75 per barrel of crude oil, the oil spilled would have been worth about $90 million in terms of spill oil value if extracted for refining. Some experts are now estimating damages from the spill to exceed $10 billion. That's a potential 100 to 1 loss, given the spill damage-to-value ratio."

First Published: Jun 10, 2010 11:19 IST