Statistical Analysis of Gulf of Mexico Oil Spills of Less than 1,000 Barrels

by Alexis Lugo-Fernández, Gulf of Mexico OCS Region, New Orleans, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Coastal Zone '93


A statistical analysis of the Minerals Management Service's (MMS) historic oil-spill data associated with Gulf of Mexico OCS oil production activities is presented. The analysis focused on two categories of oil spills defined by MMS; (1) greater than 1 (0.2 m3 and smaller than or equal to 50 (8 m3) barrels (1-50 bbl), and (2) greater than 50 and smaller than 1,000 (159 m3) barrels (50-1,000 bbl). The data analyses show that the number of spills decreases as the volume of oil spilled increases. An average of 44 ± 18 small spills of 1-50 bbl occurs per year. Their occurrence probability is described by a binomial distribution with the following parameters: n = 10 classes, p = 0.485, and q = 0.515. The spill rate for the category of 1-50 bbl has decreased since 1979, its present value is 152 spills per 109 barrels of produced oil. This reduction represents a decrease of 34 percent over an 11-year period. Spills of 50-1,000 bbl appear to be uniformly distributed and average about one spill per year. The mean spill rate for this category is six spills per 109 barrels of produced oil with no significant changes over the last 11 years.

Subject Headings: Hazardous materials spills | Statistics | Gulfs | Developing countries | Management methods | Coastal management | Information management | Probability | Gulf of Mexico | Mexico

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