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These are the world's 10 worst oil disasters

Last updated on: May 29, 2012 08:58 IST

These are the world's 10 worst oil disasters

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An oil spill is the release of a liquid petroleum hydrocarbon into the environment, especially marine areas, due to human activity, and is a form of pollution.

It not only impacts the environment, but also poses a major threat to the economy. This list compiled by CNBC aims to get a scope of the economic impact. The calculations are based on the 2010 cost of the oil spilled at the current cost of light, sweet crude at $85 per barrel.

Please note that this does not take into consideration the cost of cleanup efforts, ecological impact and loss of equipment.

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Images are for representation purpose only


Photographs: Akintunde Akinleye/Reuters
Tags: CNBC

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Kuwait Oil Spill

Oil Spilled: 5.7 million barrels

Cost in 2010: $484.5 million

The Kuwaiti oil spill during the Gulf War is considered by far the largest oil spill. The spill was caused when the invading Iraqi army intentionally opened oil pipelines and dumped crude from tankers, in an attempt to deter US forces from entering into Kuwait via the Persian Gulf.

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Photographs: Lee Celano/Reuters

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Ixotoc 1

Oil Spilled: 3.34 million barrels

Cost in 2010: $283.9 million

Ixtoc I was an exploratory oil well in the Gulf of Mexico. On 3 June 1979, the well suffered a blowout resulting in one of largest oil spills in history.

The disaster caused about 10,000 to 30,000 barrels of crude per day to spill from June 3 to March 23, 1980.

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Photographs: Reuters

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Atlantic Empress/Aegean Captain
Oil Spilled: 2.2 million barrels
Cost in 2010: $187 million

The Atlantic Empress was a Greek oil tanker that was involved in two large oil spills. On 19 July 1979, the ship collided with the Aegean Captain, off Trinidad and Tobago, spilling 287,000 metric tonnes of oil consigned to Mobil.

The damage incurred from the collision was never completely remedied, and while being towed on 2 August, the Atlantic Empress continued to spill an additional 41 million gallons (all together being 276,000 tonnes of crude oil) off Barbados.

The Aegean Captain also spilled a large quantity of oil from her No. 1 tank. The Atlantic Empress sank on 3 August in deep water and her remaining cargo solidified. The spill from the two ships never came ashore.

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Photographs: Sean Gardner/Reuters

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Fergana Valley

Oil Spilled: 2.095 million barrels

Cost in 2010: $178 million

The Mingbulak oil spill or Fergana Valley oil spill was a massive terrestrial oil spill, which started on March 2, 1992. It was the worst oil spill in the history of Asia.

The oil that came out of the well caught fire and burnt for two months. The blowout resulted in the release of 35,000 barrels to 1,50,000 barrels per day. Finally, the oil stopped flowing by itself.

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Photographs: Carlos Barria/Reuters

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ABT Summer

Oil Spilled: 1.92 million barrels

Cost in 2010: $163.2 million

The fully loaded tanker ABT Summer experienced an explosion onboard and caught fire while it was 900 miles off the coast of Angola.

Surrounded by a growing oil slick that spanned 80 square miles, the tanker burned for three days before sinking.

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Photographs: Sean Gardner/Reuters
Tags: ABT , Angola

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Nowruz Oil Field

Oil Spilled: 1.9 million barrels

Cost in 2010: $161.5 million

The Nowruz oil field, in the Persian Gulf, was the site of several 1983 oil spills.

One spill was initially caused by a tanker hitting a platform. In March, 1983, the platform was attacked by Iraqi helicopters and the spill caught fire. The Iran-Iraq War prevented technicians from capping the well until September 18, 1983. Eleven people were killed during the capping.

A separate spill occurred when Iraqi helicopters attacked a nearby platform in March 1983. The well was capped in May, 1985. Nine men were killed during the capping. Approximately 733,000 barrels (100,000 tonnes) of oil were spilled because of this incident.

Overall, 80 million gallons (about 260,000 tonnes) of oil were spilled.

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Photographs: Reuters

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Castillo de Bellver

Oil Spilled: 1.8 million barrels

Cost in 2010: $153 million

Castillo de Bellver, carrying 252,000 tonnes of light crude oil (Murban and Upper Zakum), caught fire about 70 miles north west of Cape Town, South Africa on 6 August 1983. The blazing ship drifted off shore and broke in two.

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Photographs: Rogerio Santana/Reuters

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Amoco Cadiz

Oil Spilled: 1.6 million barrels

Cost in 2010: $136 million

The Amoco Cadiz ran aground on Portsall Rocks, 5 km (3.1 mi) from the coast of Brittany, France, on 16 March 1978, and ultimately split in three and sank.

According to the Mariner Group, the ship spilled 1.6 million barrels of crude oil near Portsall, France and the resulting slick eventually affected 125 miles of coastline.

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Photographs: Sean Gardner/Reuters

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Odyssey

Oil Spilled: 1.02 million barrels

Cost in 2010: $86.7 million

Odyssey, which previously went by the name Oriental Phoenix, was an oil tanker in operation from 1971 to November 10, 1988, when an explosion caused it to sink in the North Atlantic off the coast of Canada.

The tanker was 700 nautical miles (1,300 km; 810 mi) off the coast of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia when it sank and released 132,157 tons (43 million gallons) of oil into the ocean.

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Photographs: Sean Gardner/Reuters

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M/T Haven

Oil Spilled: 1 million barrels

Cost in 2010: $85 million

On 11 April 1991, M/T Haven was unloading a cargo of 230,000 tonnes of crude oil to the Multedo floating platform, seven miles off of the coast of Genoa, Italy. At this point, it suffered a massive explosion that caused the ship to break into two and sink after three days.

As the fire engulfed the ship, flames rose 100m high and, after a series of further explosions occurred, between 30-40,000 tons of oil poured into the sea.


Photographs: Courtesy, Wikimedia Commons
Tags: Genoa , Italy , Multedo

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