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Geophysical Monograph Series



  • oil spill
  • risk analysis
  • OSRA
  • Gulf of Mexico
  • deepwater spill
  • Deepwater Horizon

Index Terms

  • 1984 Informatics: Statistical methods: Descriptive
  • 4512 Oceanography: Physical: Currents
  • 0545 Computational Geophysics: Modeling
  • 0560 Computational Geophysics: Numerical solutions



Oil Spill Risk Analysis Model and Its Application to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Using Historical Current and Wind Data

Z.-G. Ji, W. R. Johnson, and Z. Li

The Oil Spill Risk Analysis (OSRA) model plays an essential role in analyzing oil spill risks offshore for the U.S. federal government. The OSRA model is used by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) to calculate potential oil spill shoreline contact locations and potential contact frequencies to offshore resources. It was used to model the probable trajectories of a long-duration oil spill from the location of the Macondo well, which the Deepwater Horizon rig was drilling when it exploded and sank on 20 April 2010. Other modelers are using the wind and current data from 2010 to model this oil spill. BOEMRE tested its OSRA model using historical wind and current data from 1993 to 1998 to determine if these data would produce a pattern of probabilities similar to what was observed from the Deepwater Horizon spill. The OSRA model can provide important information on the behavior of oil spills accurately and efficiently. The statistical patterns and results from the OSRA model are compared with the pattern of surface oiling from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The OSRA model results have statistical patterns similar to the ones shown in the surface oiling surveys. The ocean surface currents and winds are also carefully analyzed to explore the causes of seasonal variations of oil spill contact probability. Findings from this study will help in assessing the oil spill risks in the Gulf of Mexico.

Citation: Ji, Z.-G., W. R. Johnson, and Z. Li (2011), Oil Spill Risk Analysis model and its application to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill using historical current and wind data, in Monitoring and Modeling the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: A Record-Breaking Enterprise, Geophys. Monogr. Ser., vol. 195, edited by Y. Liu et al., 227–236, AGU, Washington, D. C., doi:10.1029/2011GM001117.

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