Special Reports

Oill spill Q&A

Q: When did the rig explode and when did it sink?

A: The Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig exploded at approximately 10 p.m. on April 20. The rig was located in the Gulf of Mexico, about 45 miles southeast of Venice, La.

Of the 126 people on the rig at the time of the explosion, 115 crew members were accounted for. The Coast Guard actively searched for 11 individuals. Search and rescue was suspended at 5 p.m. on April 23. None of the 11 were found.

At approximately 10:20 a.m. April 22 the oil rig sank with about 700,000 gallons of diesel fuel. The rig was found on April 23, sunken and upside down approximately 1,500 feet northwest of the blowout preventer.

Q: How much oil is leaking?

A: Using satellite images and computer models, oceanographers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predict the ruptured well 5,000 feet below the surface of the Gulf is gushing about 5,000 barrels (or 210,000 gallons) of oil a day. But a National Public Radio report Friday questioned that amount. Steven Wereley, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University, analyzed videotape of the seafloor gusher for NPR using a technique called particle image velocimetry. He estimates the leak is releasing 70,000 barrels per day into the Gulf.

Q: Who is working on plans to stop the leak?

A: An international team of scientists, engineers and oil drilling experts from the government, private industry and academia are working round-the-clock at BP offices in Houston to find a solution to the leaking well.

However, BP Group CEO Tony Hayward acknowledged the spill and BP’s efforts to resolve it are unprecedented.

“There is an enormous amount of learning going on here because we are doing it for real for the first time,” he said.

—McClatchy Tribune