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Research Papers: Ocean Engineering

The 2010 Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico: Flow-Rate Estimation Based on Satellite-Images Analysis1

[+] Author and Article Information
Diego Garcia Giraldo

Idain Profesionales S.L., Consultancy,
Pol. Ind. Saprelorca, Edf. Torreoeste, 2C,
Lorca, 30817, Murcia, Spain,
e-mail: dggiraldo@gmail.com

Ronald W. Yeung

Inaugural American Bureau of Shipping
Endowed Chair in Ocean Engineering,
Director of The Berkeley Marine Mechanics
Laboratory (BMML),
Department of Mechanical Engineering,
University of California at Berkeley,
Berkeley, CA 94720
e-mail: rwyeung@berkeley.edu

2Present address: American Bureau of Shipping, C/Orense 34, Madrid 28020, Spain.

3Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Ocean, Offshore, and Arctic Engineering Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF OFFSHORE MECHANICS AND ARCTIC ENGINEERING. Manuscript received April 24, 2018; final manuscript received September 4, 2018; published online February 15, 2019. Assoc. Editor: Madjid Karimirad.

J. Offshore Mech. Arct. Eng 141(5), 051101 (Feb 15, 2019) (12 pages) Paper No: OMAE-18-1046; doi: 10.1115/1.4041770 History: Received April 24, 2018; Revised September 04, 2018

The Deepwater Horizon Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit (MODU) was one of several classes of floatable drilling systems. The explosion on April 20, 2010 led to fatalities and the worst oil spill in the U.S. We present an independent estimate of the oil-flow rate into The Gulf caused by the drill-pipe rupture. We employed the NASA Moderate-Resolution Imaging-Spectroradiometer (MODIS) satellite photographs, starting from the days immediately following the disaster, to determine the magnitude of spill. From these images, we obtained the surface area of the spill and calculated the oil flow rate by two different methods based on contrasting luminance within that area. The first assumes a constant thickness for the total area with upper and lower bounds for the thickness. The second separates the area into different patches based on the luminance levels of each. The probability density function (PDF) of such luminance plots showed natural groupings, allowing patches be identifiable. Each patch maps to a specific thickness. This second approach provides a more accurate average thickness. With the assumption that evaporation and other loss amounted to ∼40% of the spill, we obtained, from the first method, a flow rate ranging from 9,300 barrels per day (BPD) to 93,000 BPD. A value of 51,200 BPD was obtained using patch-separation method. This latter estimate was a plausible value, obtained from the current analysis, but with no details presented in an Extended Abstract in OMAE2012, is remarkably consistent with the “official U.S.-Govt. estimates.”

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References

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Figures

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Fig. 1

Plume, representing the oil/gas mixture from the riser

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Fig. 2

Oil spill patches on sea surface with thickness function hi(x,y,t)

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Fig. 3

Oil spill image as observed on April 25, 2010 [3]

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Fig. 4

Oil spill as observed on April 25, 2010 and treated image[3]

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Fig. 5

Selection of the oil spill area and area extracted based on April 25, 2010 image [3]

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Fig. 6

Color levels for oil spill image as observed on April 25, 2010

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Fig. 7

Color curves for oil spill image as observed on April 25, 2010

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Fig. 8

Three-dimensional plot of the oil spill as observed on April 25, 2010. Dark blue color represents sea water and red color shows the part of the oil with highest luminance (matched with the biggest content of oil). In between a continuous change from cool colors to warm colors occurs.

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Fig. 9

Probability density function of the oil surface luminance value on April 25, 2010, where Y represents the intensity in grayscale from 0 to 255 and f(Y) represents the normalized histogram and the fitted PDF curve

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Fig. 10

Selected levels of the oil surface April 25, 2010. Last image is the sum of the three levels, using different color scale to highlight the three levels. Level 1: 0+ to 111.3; Level 2: 111.3 to 207; and Level 3: 207 to 255.

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Fig. 11

Probability density functions of the oil surface April 25, 2010, representing all the PDFs for every channel (red, green, and blue) and the grayscale combination

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Fig. 12

Response vessels and gradations in the thickness of the spill and peripheral sheen (NASA) (from Ref. [7], Image courtesy of SkyTruth)

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Fig. 13

Boundary estimation on oil spill as observed on April 25, 2010 (Adapted from Ref. [7], Image courtesy of SkyTruth)

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Fig. 14

Superposition of areas selected by present method and boundary estimation (SkyTruth) on oil spill (April 25, 2010 on the left and April 27, 2010 on the right) [7]

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Fig. 15

The Bonn (BAOAC) data—metric and English units (Adapted from page 10 of Ref. [8], open-source information from NOAA)

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Fig. 16

Oil code thickness and concentration values (Adapted from page 11 of Ref. [8], open-source information from NOAA)

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Fig. 17

Oil-on-water appearance related to its thickness for guiding visual assessments (from Ref. [11], courtesy of and with permission from CONCAWE)

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Fig. 18

Fate of a crude oil spill. The width of each band is only schematic and represents the importance of the process (from page 2 of Ref. [12], Image courtesy of ITOPF)

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Fig. 19

Processes acting on spilled oil (from page 5 of Ref. [12], Image courtesy of ITOPF)

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Fig. 20

Integrated processes for Sture Blend crude oil (Adapted from page 945 of Ref. [14], with permission)

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Fig. 21

Evolution of the oil spill area. Date axis represents the chronological series of images captured for our study. Area axis represents the corresponding surface area of the oil spill for each date in mi2. Additional external effects in this time scale are explained in the “Log of Events” listed in Sec. 3.2.

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Fig. 22

Flow-rate calculations for 1 μm constant thickness. Each value in the horizontal axis represents the flow rate at that date based on backwards differencing. Vertical axis shows the volume flow rate in BPD.

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Fig. 23

Flow-rate calculations for 10 μm constant thickness. Each value in the horizontal axis represents the flow rate at that date based on backwards differencing. Vertical axis shows the volume flow rate in barrels per day.

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Fig. 24

Flow-rate calculations for 5.5 μm constant thickness. Each value in the horizontal axis represents the flow rate at that date based on backwards differencing. Vertical axis shows the volume flow rate in barrels per day. Big square marks indicate the analyzed pictures.

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Fig. 25

Flow-rate calculations for 6.85 μm equivalent-constant thickness. Each value in the horizontal axis represents the flow rate at that date based on backwards differencing. Vertical axis shows the volume flow rate in barrels per day. Big square marks indicate the analyzed picture.

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