The World’s Worst Oil Spills

The Ten Worst Oil Spills In History.

The World’s Ten Worst Oil Spills

Since one purpose of this site is to put disasters into perspective, I’ll note that in spite of all the hand-wringing about man-made oil spills, the worst culprit is nature herself. Natural oil leaks form the ocean floor annually spill many times more than the amount lost from broken tankers and destroyed rigs. Off the coast of Santa Barbara, for example, there is a naturally occurring leak that seeps 20 – 25 tons of oil each day, and has done so for several hundred thousand years. Department of Energy studies on this, and on other leaks, conclude that each year, more than 47 million gallons leak naturally into US waters. Compare that to the number eleven spill on this list, which was a one-time loss of 45 million gallons.

All that said, here are the Top Ten Worst Oil Spills.

1.
Arabian Gulf/Kuwait
January 1991
380 – 520 million gallons

Attempting to slow the Allied advance, Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi forces dumped an estimated 380 – 520 million gallons of oil into the Persian Gulf from offshore oil terminals.

2.
Deepwater Horizon
Gulf of Mexico
April 20, 2010 – ?
155 million gallons (estimated).

Following an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig that killed 11, the broken facility has leaked an estimated 155 million gallons from the ocean floor.

3.
Ixtoc 1 Oil Spill
Bay of Campeche, Ciudad del Carmen, Mexico
June 1979 – March 1980
140 million gallons

An offshore oil well blew and ignited, causing the drilling rig to collapse. Oil spilled out of the fissure into the Gulf of Mexico at a rate of 10,000 – 30,000 barrels a day until the well was capped. All told, an estimated 140 million gallons was spilled.

4.
Atlantic Empress Oil Spill
Trinidad and Tobago
July 19, 1979
90 million gallons

The Atlantic Empress oil tanker collided with another ship, the Aegean Captain and sprung a leak. Approximately 90 million gallons was spilled. Twenty six were killed.

5.
Fergana Valley
Uzbekistan
March 2, 1992
88 million gallons

An oil line leak released 88 million gallons in to Uzbekistan’s heavily populated Fergana valley.

6.
Kolva River Oil Spill
Kolva River, Russia
September 8, 1994
84 million gallons

A leak from an oil pipeline spilled 84 million gallons into the Russian Arctic region.

7.
Nowruz Oil Field
Iran
Feb 10 – Sept 18 1983
80 million gallons

An oil platform collapsed after being hit by a tanker, sending oil into the Persian Gulf. Eighty million gallons were spilled before it was capped. Delays were blamed on the first Gulf War. Eleven were killed trying to stop it.

8.
Castillo de Beliver Oil Spill
South Africa
August 6, 1983
79 million gallons

The Castillo de Beliver, a tanker, caught fire and broke in two, sending 79 million gallons into the Saldanha Bay northwest of Cape Town.

9.
Amoco Cadiz Oil Spill
France
March 16, 1978
69 million gallons

Caught by a winter storm, the Amoco Cadiz ran aground at Portsall, France. Breaking in two, it sent 69 million gallons into the ocean.

10.
ABT Summer Oil Spill
Angola
May 28, 1991
51 – 81 million gallons

Seven hundred miles off the coast of Angola, the ABT Summer exploded, releasing 51 – 81 million gallons into the ocean. Five crew were killed.

11.
M/T Haven Tanker Oil Spill
Genoa, Italy
April 11, 1991
45 million gallons

The oil tanker explosion killed six, sank the ship and leaked oil for twelve years. A total of 45 million gallons was released.