World’s Largest Oil Spill’s – The Facts

Oil spills are a major form of pollution which can cause long-term damage to the environment. There has been numerous oil disasters in the past, yet the two largest in the world have taken place in the last 25 years.

For this blog post I am going to concentrate on these two disasters and the damage they caused.

Gulf War 1991- Kuwait.

  • In January 1991, Iraqi forces intentionally released over 300 million gallons of crude oil into the Persian Gulf, (during the Persian Gulf War) causing the largest oil spill in history.
  • The spill spanned an area larger than Hawaii and was 5 inches thick; of which affected surrounding coastlines, including Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
  • 3-5 months after the spill, around 905 thousand barrels of oil washed ashore in Kuwait.
  • 30,000 birds were killed during this oil spill.
  • Despite this, 3 years after the spill, research showed fish and bird population had returned to pre-spill levels.
  • Despite the devastating damage of the oil spill, research found that the environment made a speedy recovery, proving that nature recovers overtime.
  • It was estimated to cost $540 million for the clean-up.


Deepwater Horizon 2010- Mexico

  • In April 2010, the BP oil rig, Deepwater Horizon suffered a malfunction and burst into flames releasing more than 200 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
  • The oil was pumping around 5,000 barrels a day for a total of 87 days after the disaster – making it the largest oil spill in US history.
  • Over 1000 miles of coastline was affected, including coasts of Texas, Florida and Mississippi.
  • 11 people were killed by the disaster and 17 were injured.
  • 5 years after the spill, BP released a report stating that the Gulf had largely recovered, however the environmental effects of the spill are likely to last for generations.
  • BP have so far paid $53.8 billion including $18.7 in settlements.