An oilspill risk analysis for the Mid-Atlantic (proposed sale 76) outer continental shelf lease area

Open-File Report 82-27




An oilspill risk analysis was conducted for the mid-Atlantic (proposed sale 76) Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) lease area. The analysis considered: the probability of spill occurrences based on historical trends; likely movement of oil slicks based on a climatological model; and locations of environmental resources which could be vulnerable to spilled oil. The times between spill occurrence and contact with resources were estimated to aid analysts in estimating slick characteristics. Critical assumptions made for this particular analysis were (1) that oil exists in the lease area, and (2) that 0.879 billion barrels of oil will be found and produced from tracts sold in sale 76. On the basis of this resource estimate, it was calculated that 3 to 4 oilspills of 1,000 barrels or greater will occur over the 30-year production life of the proposed sale 76 lease tracts. The results also depend upon the routes and methods chosen to transport oil from 0CS platforms to shore. Given the above assumptions, the estimated probability that one or more oilspills of 1,000 barrels or larger will occur and contact land after being at sea less than 30 days is 0.36; for spills 10,000 barrels or larger, the probability is 0.22. These probabilities also reflect the following assumptions: oilspills remain intact for up to 30 days, do not weather, and are not cleaned up. It is noteworthy that over 90 percent of the risk from proposed sale 76 is due to transportation rather than production of oil. In addition, the risks from proposed sale 76 are about 1/10 to 1/15 those of existing tanker transportation of crude oil imports and refined products in the mid-Atlantic area.

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An oilspill risk analysis for the Mid-Atlantic (proposed sale 76) outer continental shelf lease area
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Open-File Report
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U.S. Geological Survey,
vi, 170 p., ill., maps ;28 cm.