Tuesday, August 03, 2010
Where All That BP Oil Is
There seems to be some concern about where all the oil from the BP oil spill/leak in the Gulf of Mexico has gone. ABC News's report is here. I have a thought: maybe there just isn't that much oil to find. I did some figuring this morning. The EPA tells us that the Gulf of Mexico contains 6.43 x 1017 or 643 quadrillion gallons of water. The spill is said to be 200 million gallons (200 x 106 gallons). By my math, that comes to about three gallons of oil in every 109 (billion) gallons of water. Let's say for the sake argument that the spill area is only a thousandth of the Gulf. That makes the concentration in the spill area about 3 parts per million (ppm). The current legal EPA limit for oil discharge into the ocean is 15ppm--five times this calculated concentration. It looks like there just wasn't much oil in the spill/leak to begin with, so maybe it isn't missing.