Various Oil Spills and Blowouts

For photos of various oil spills, including some that are not mentioned on this site, go to the Incidents Gallery of the NOAA website at http://photos.orr.noaa.gov/gallery_4/incidents.htm.

The oil spills and blowouts listed here are just a sampling of the numerous incidents; more are being added regularly.

Location
900 miles off coast of Angola, Africa
Type
tanker
Description

Liberian oil tanker carrying Iranian crude oil exploded, causing a three-day fire that ended with a sunken ship. Two tug boats and a plane attempted to extinguish the fire. Seven vessels rescued the crew (27), but one crew member was killed and four were reported missing (died).

Location
10 miles off Tobago (Caribbean Sea)
Type
tanker
Description

Two VLCCs (Very Large Crude Carriers), The Atlantic Empress (Greek owned, carrying Mobil oil from the Persian Gulf) and the Aegean Captain, collided during a tropical rainstorm. The Aegean Captain was towed to dock, spilling small quantities of oil, which was sprayed with dispersant by a tug boat. The Atlantic Empress was towed towards open sea while surrounding vessels hosed the fire. A burning oil slick followed. Firefighting and dispersant application were used. Several explosions shook the Atlantic Empress 4-5 days after the collision, and another 10 days after, enlarging the fire.

Location
off Table Bay, South Africa
Type
tanker
Description

An explosion caused a fire, and the ship ultimately broke in two. The stern section sank; the bow section was towed away from the coast and sunk with the aid of explosives.

Location
Gulf of Mexico
Type
deepwater well blowout
Description

See Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill for comprehensive details. Also see the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill library, the Research Cruise Blog, and the Research.

Location
Prince William Sound, Alaska
Type
tanker grounding
Description

The 1989 Exxon Valdez oil tanker spill is surpassed only by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon/Macondo well blowout in volume released into U.S. waters. Nevertheless, the officially estimated 11 million gallons of crude oil from the Prudhoe Bay oil field, devastated the pristine, remote Prince William Sound, Alaska area. (Some argue that a more accurate estimate is between 25 and 32 million gallons.)

Location
Navarino Bay, Greece
Type
tanker
Description

While anchored at a bunkering site and refueling in Navarino Bay, Greece, explosions in the forecastle of this Greek oil tanker erupted; the ship sank after burning for 14 hours.

Location
Bay of Campeche, Gulf of Mexico
Type
oil rig blowout
Description

Ixtoc I was an exploratory well being drilled by Sedco 135F for PEMEX, a state-owned Mexican petroleum company, in waters about 50 meters (164 feet) deep. The well itself, however, was over 2 miles deep. When drilling mud circulation was lost, the drill string was pulled, resulting in a loss of hydrostatic pressure of the mud column and subsequent flowing of oil and gas to the surface. The BOP failed to work properly. An ROV and submersible were used to approach the BOP, but poor visibility and debris on the seafloor, including derrick wreckage and the drilling pipe, made it difficult.

Location
7 miles off the Italian coast near Genoa
Type
tanker
Description

While disconnected from a floating platform 7 miles off the Italian coast near Genoa where this Cypriot VLCC (very large crude carrier), leased by Troodos Shipping, was transferring oil, the ship exploded, caught fire, and broke in two. The bow sank in 450 meters of water, and the remainder of the ship sank 1.5 miles off the coast at 33-38 meters.

Location
800 miles off the coast of Nova Scotia in the North Atlantic
Type
tanker
Description

In rough seas, an on-board explosion caused thie Liberian tanker operated by a United Kingdom company to break apart; it sank in heavy North Atlantic weather 800 miles off coast of Nova Scotia. After break up and before sinking, a fire started in the stern section. The storm included 25-foot waves and 44-mile-per-hour winds.

Location
off coast of Oman
Type
tanker
Description

The Sea Star, a Korean supertanker, collided with the Brailian tanker, Horta Barbosa, off the coast of Oman. The vessel leaked, burning oil from a 40-foot hole in its side. It exploded and eventually sank five days after the collision. The Horta Barbosa also burned, but that fire was extinguished within a day.

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