Study: Up to 79 Percent of Oil Remains in Gulf

The University of Georgia, working with the Georgia Sea Grant, has released a report that concludes up to seventy-nine percent of the oil remains in the Gulf and that it is a threat to the ecosystem. This is contrary to more optimistic reports from BP and the government.
Athens, Ga. – A report released today by the Georgia Sea Grant and the University of Georgia concludes that up to 79 percent of the oil released into the Gulf of Mexico from the Deepwater Horizon well has not been recovered and remains a threat to the ecosystem.

The report, authored by five prominent marine scientists, strongly contradicts media reports that suggest that only 25 percent of the oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill remains.

“One major misconception is that oil that has dissolved into water is gone and, therefore, harmless,” said Charles Hopkinson, director of Georgia Sea Grant and professor of marine sciences in the University of Georgia Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. “The oil is still out there, and it will likely take years to completely degrade. We are still far from a complete understanding of what its impacts are.”
Hopkinson and Joye will discuss the report and the fate of gas released into the Gulf of Mexico at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 17. The briefing will be held in Room 261 of the Marine Sciences building on the UGA campus. There is of particular concern about the methane gas, as -- like with oil -- it can impact the oxygen content of the water, as well as being a greenhouse gas twenty times more potent than C02. There has been difficulty in measuring the exact amount of gas, which has impacted the ability to accurately measure the oil released, since the two hydrocarbons were coming out of the blow well together.

Between 4.1 and 4.8 million barrels (172.2 - 201.6 million gallons) of oil is estimated to have gushed into the Gulf during what has been established as the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

The study did say that "on an optimistic note" that natural processes "continue to transform, dilute, degrade and evaporate the oil. They add that circular current known as the Franklin Eddy is preventing the Loop Current from bringing oil-contaminated water from the Gulf to the Atlantic, which bodes well for the East Coast."

The report is available at this link.