If we can believe the government's recent spill and leak estimates (latest in a long line of previously revised estimates) we can assume very shortly that Deepwater Horizon's well head will soon surpass Ixtoc I as the Northwest Hemisphere's worst oil pollution source of all time. Ixtoc I spilled 130 to 140 million gallons and Deepwater Horizon is probably somewhere over 100 million gallons. You can bet BP is working hard to avoid becoming numero uno.
Meanwhile, for shear unadulterated pollution madness, there's the Persion Gulf spill of 1991. In preperation for the U.S. and allied invasion of Kuwait Saddam Heusein ordered his troops to open the spigots of all the ships and terminals on the coast. He personally filled the headwaters of the Arabian Sea with somewhere between 320 and perhaps as much as 600 million gallons of oil.
Meanwhile, in addition to the ecological disaster in the making, fallout from the BP spill in the Gulf will have long term economic and political consequences if the Administration doesn't act appropriately.
According to a paper published yesterday by the International Energy Agency, regulatory changes alone could jeopardize nearly one million barrels of new daily crude production over the next half-decade. In the Gulf of Mexico, a one- to two-year delay in new deepwater oil projects could lower output by 100,000 to 300,000 barrels per day by 2015. In other deepwater jurisdictions, including Brazil, Angola and Nigeria, a further 550,000 daily barrels “could be at risk, albeit there are no current indications that permitting in these countries is likely to be affected,” the agency reported.