BP Gulf Oil Gusher: Methane, Climate & Dead Zones

As much as one million times the normal level of methane is showing up near the Gulf of Mexico oil gusher, enough potentially to create dead zones in the water. "These are higher levels than we have ever seen at any other location in the ocean itself," according to sources cited by Reuters. The "flow team" of the US Geological Survey estimates that 2,900 cubic feet of natural gas, which primarily contains methane, is being released into the Gulf waters with every barrel of oil.

The constant flow of around 65,000 barrels of crude oil places the total daily amount of natural gas at over 188 million cubic feet. So far, over 13 billion cubic feet may have been released, making it one of the most vigorous methane eruptions in modern human history. The crude oil from the "Macondo Prospect" well contains around 40 percent methane, compared with about 5 percent found in typical oil deposits.

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