Mapping Offshore Oil in the Gulf of Mexico
With Hurricane Harvey headed toward the coast of Texas, local officials and residents are preparing for the emergency. But another “waterborne city of oil rigs rises off the coasts of Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi” in the Gulf of Mexico is also bracing during the storm.
National Geographic published a map of the Gulf of Mexico (excerpt above—click to enlarge) following the BP Deepwater Horizon explosion, fire, and oil spill. The map, Gulf of Mexico: A Geography of Offshore Oil was published in 2010 following the disaster that year in April. “The explosion and fire sank the 58,000-ton mobile rig, killing 11 workers. An estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil flowed from the well, creating the worst accidental marine oil spill in history.”
The map identifies the locations of the more than 50,000 wells and 43,000 miles of pipeline located in the Gulf of Mexico. The darker brown points identify oil or gas offshore platforms. The lighter brown points are oil or gas wells. The brown lines represent oil- or gas-related pipelines. The darker the small squares, the deeper the water. According to the map, the maximum depth of the Gulf of Mexico is unknown, but estimates range to 14,000 feet.
The Perdido floating production platform, southeast of Padre Island, operates in 8,000 feet of water—a world record. The Tiber well is the world’s deepest offshore well. Petronius in the eastern part of the Gulf of Mexico is the world’s tallest fixed platform. The Macondo well, just south of Biloxi, Mississippi, was the site of the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
The map is available for circulation for research and learning projects from the Ball State University Libraries GIS Research and Map Collection (GRMC) on the second floor of Bracken Library. Digital copies of the map are available for educational or personal purposes upon request.
For more information, please contact the GRMC at 765-285-1097.