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Tulane Law School has gathered a group of experts and has put together a lecture series on all aspects of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and resulting catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  The purpose of this series is to provide background on technical, scientific and policy aspects of the Deepwater Horizon/BP blowout, including deep water drilling; the blowout itself; the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem; oil, water and cleanup; containment responses; biological impacts; community impacts; legal issues; and policy implications beyond BP.

Deepwater Horizon Lecture Series 

BP Oil Spill ExplosionEach lecture will be followed by a question and answer period. While Tulane law students may participate in this series for academic credit with the satisfactory completion of additional work, the series is intended equally for all students and the interested general public. Additional information will be available in August. In the meantime, questions can be directed to Forest Wootten, fwootten@tulane.edu.

Lecture Schedule (PDF)

Lectures will be streamed live through this webpage.  Additionally, lectures are digitally archived for public access throughout the fall semester, available at the link below:

video archive icon
Lecture Video Archives


Best Papers, BP Lecture Course

Lecture Reading Materials

  • Suggested Readings For Lecture 1: Orientation and a Litigator's Perspective

The Deepwater Horizon Catastrophe
Overview of Deepwater Horizon Incident: A course long reading

Production Trends - Gulf of Mexico
Overview of Production trends and contribution from deepwater drilling

Have We Peaked
Powerpoint Presentation on Global Oil & Gas supply

Oil spills. Poverty. Corruption. Why Louisiana is America's petro-state
A look into Louisiana's history with oil industries

Additional Materials

Who Will Pay to Fix Louisiana
Description of deleterious oil and gas impacts on coastal Louisiana and challenges facing the region

Can We Save the Gulf of Mexico
Article provides brief overview of economic landscape of Gulf industries and calls for a national ocean policy

Deepwater Horizon Major Accident Risk Assessment
2004 Deepwater Horizon risk assessment for major accidents

For BP, a History of Spills and Safety Lapses
History of BP's safety record and systemmic failures of BP to mitigate risk

As Oil Industry Fights a Tax, It Reaps Subsidies
Overview of taxes and subsidies for oil companies and the extraction industry

Fed Predicted Minimal Risk to Gulf Wildlife
Article on federal agency review of spill risk assessment

Federal records show steady stream of oil spills in gulf since 1964
Article on the frequency of oil spills in gulf in last 40 years

U.S. Offshore Oil and Gas Resources: Prospects and Processes
Government Report on US OCS oil reserves, demand, production

Gulf of Mexico Fact Sheet
Gulf Oil and Gas Resources

Lost Ecosytem Goods and Services as a Measure of Marine Oil Pollution Damages
Overview of regulatory framework for recovering natural resource damages

  • Suggested Readings For Lecture 2: Blowout: What Happened and What Went Wrong 

BP decision Set Stage for Disaster
Play by play of what happened leading up to on on April 20

Minerals Service Had a Mandate to Produce Results
Relationship of oil industry with regulatory oversite

The Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill: An Accident Waiting to Happen
Article detailing inherent risk in the industry

Recommended/Additional Reading

Gas Surge shut well a couple of weeks before Gulf oil spill
Article on Gas kicks and debate to replace heavy drilling mud with lighter seawater

Safety fluid was removed before oil rig exploded in Gulf
Article discussing possible causes for explosion

Deepwater Horizon alarms were switched off 'to help workers sleep'
Alarm systems on Horizon were disabled according to testimony

Costly, time-consuming test of cement linings in Deepwater Horizon rig was omitted, spokesman says
Tests of casing cement not conducted, testing contractor sent home hours before explosion

Deepwater Horizon glitches before explosion in Gulf of Mexico get House panel's attention
Leak in BOP and dead battery in control panel point exposed in investigation

Investigating the Cause of the Deepwater Horizon Blowout
Graphics explaining the blowout

What Happened on the Deepwater Horizon
Graphic on failure of BOP

In the Gulf of Mexico, what went wrong with the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig?
General article on went happened on the DWH

DWH Incident Internal Investigation Interim Report
Transocean draft presentation on interim findings into possible causes

MMS 2007 BOP reliability study
2007 MMS report on BOP function, failure and testing

Absence of fatalities in blowouts encouraging in MMS study of OCS incidents
Summary of Oil Blowouts from 1992-2006

The legacy of the Gulf spill: What to expect for the future
Comparison of Ixtoc Blowout with the DWH blowout

Minerals Management Service's complicity in Gulf oil disaster challenged in court
Press Release on Lawsuit brought against MMS for agency failures

NOAA comments on OCS 2010-2015 Oil and Gas Leasing Program
Noaa agency comments on MMS OCS leasing plan 2010-2015

Three of every four oil and gas lobbyists worked for federal government
Article detailing agency ties with lobbyist groups

History of Oil and Gas in Louisiana
A look at the development of Oil and Gas in Louisiana over the last 100 years

Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Drilling Report 2008
MMS report on the state of GOM development as of 2008

Will there ever be a depth limit
Paper discussing the increased risks of drilling as drill depth is increased

EPA weighs sanctions against BP
Article discussing possible civil fines and criminal penalties for BP

Notice to Lessees Waiver Stream-lining worst case response planning
April 1, 2008 Notice to GOM operators on changes to reporting requirements

OCS Lease Program
Overview of the MMS lease program and development on the OCS

  • Suggested Readings For Lecture 3: The Gulf Ecosystem: Diversity and Threats 

2010 Dead Zone may be biggest ever
Article on size of 2010 dead zone

Louisiana Coastal Erosion
Oil and Gas impact on Coastal Erosion

Gulf of Mexico Large Marine Ecosystem
Overview of Gulf ecosystem and health

Recommended/Additional Reading

Natural Oil Seeps
Natural Oil seeps support marine ecosystems

While Oil Gently Seeps
Oil seeps provide natural test site for oil breakdown in marine environment

Rise and Disapperance of Southeast Louisiana
Interactive Video on Coastal Erosion

Fishery Production in Gulf
Overview of Gulf Fisheries with discussion of impact of river flow in shaping system productivity

Hypoxia in the Gulf
Overview of Hypoxia, the causes location and trends

Algal Blooms in Breton Sound
Algal blooms discovered in brenton sound, however no link with oil suggested

Dispersants from the Mississippi River
Ms River is vast source of water pollution

Socio-economics of Gulf natural resources
Socio Economics of Gulf Fisheries

  • Suggested Readings For Lecture 4: Oil on Water 

Comparative Toxicity of Louisiana Sweet Crude Oil
Comparative Toxicity of Louisiana Sweet Crude Oil (LSC) and Chemically Dispersed LSC to Two Gulf of Mexico Aquatic Test Species

Comparative Toxicity of Dispersant Products
Comparative Toxicity of Eight Oil Dispersant Products on Two Gulf of Mexico Aquatic Test Species

EPA's Dispersant Test Results
Nalco Statement on EPA Dispersant Test Results

EPA's Second Round of Dispersant Test Results
Nalco Statement on EPA's Second Round of Dispersant Test Results

Coastal Marshes Oil Spill Response Strategies
Oil Spill Response Strategies for Coastal Marshes during the Deepwater Horizon MC252 Spill

PAH Benchmark Calculations
Explanation of PAH benchmark calculations using EPA PAH ESB approach. Originally developed by Dave Mount, ORD Duluth

Overton Testimony on Dispersant Use
Ed Overton Congressional Testimony on Dispersant Use in the Gulf of Mexico

Oil Budget, What Happened to the Oil
Breakdown of the fate of spilled oil

Fate of Marine Oil Spills
Fate of Oil in marine environment

Plume of Oil Below Surface Raise New Concerns
Underwater Oil Plumes found

Plumes of Oil Below Surface Raise New Concerns
Article estimating size of oil spill

Tracking the Gulf Oil
Simple breakdown of what has happened to the oil

Fate of Oil in Marine Waters
Long API produced pamphlet for oil spill responders

Heavy Oil Detection Methods Report
Report on effectiveness of methods at detecting oil in marine environments

Technical Assessment of Dispersant use on oil spills
Study on dispersant use in Gulf of Mexico

Historical Oil Spill Trends
Look at oil spill trends worldwide

Christopher Reddy Testimony for Congress on Toxicity
Expert Testimony on BP oil spill toxicity issues

Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Drilling Report 2008
MMS report on the state of GOM development as of 2008

Will there ever be a depth limit
Paper discussing the increased risks of drilling as drill depth is increased

Corexit Tox Test Overview
Summary of Corexit Toxicity Testing

Less Toxic Dispersants continue to lose out
Report on less-toxic dispersant alternatives

Corexit Fact Sheet
CDC fact sheet on dispersants used in the response to the BP oil spill

  • Suggested Readings For Lecture 6: Responses: Cleanup and Barriers

Oil Cleaning Technology
Overview of Basic Oil Spill Cleaning technology/Approach

Under Pressure to Block Oil, A rush to dubious projects
Review of the construction of sand berms and other unproven responses

Criticism of in-situ burning
Article discussing complications and effectiveness of burns

Barataria Bay Devestation
Impact of Diversions on Oyster Reefs

Is using dispersants appropriate
Overview of Corexit and Corexit use in the Gulf of Mexico

Overview of methods used to stop oil
Graphical article showing attempts to cap the well

State, Scientists argue over how to stop the oil
Rock Berm Debate among scientists

USGS report on Sand Berms
Government report on feasibility of sand/rock berms in coastal louisiana

Sand Berms a dubious proposition
Picayune Op-Ed by coastal scientists strongly protesting sand berm construction

Recovery effort falls short of BP's promises
Assessment of scimming/recovery efforts compared with expected responses

A Whale' deemed a bust for scimming oil
Massive "A Whale" scimming vessel deemed a failure

BP keeping dispersants ingrediants secret
BP refuses to disclose ingrediants

EPA stands by use of dispersants
EPA says dispersant correct decision

National Contingency Plan Product Schedule
National contingency portal for dispersants/surfactants

River diversions
Scientist arguing to increase flow down mississippi "bird foot" to flush out oil

Rivers Diversons to keep back the oil
Article on State's use of diversions to dispell oil from coast

State of oil spill cleanup technology
Overview of Basic Oil Spill Cleaning technology/Approach

Can microbes help clean up the oil
Article detailing bioremedation options and comparisons with Exxon Valdez

Gulf damaged by several toxins
Article detailing concerns with in situ burning

Dispersant Information Portal
Dispersant fact sheets/data

Construction of Sand Berms
Army Corps to reconsider Berm permit if emergency declaration ends

Sand Berms Eroding
Blog articles with pics showing erosion of sand berms

Experts doubt sand berms
Berm controversy

  • Suggested Readings For Lecture 7: Impacts and Evaluation 
Panel: Gov't Blocked Scientists On Spill Estimate
Government Panel report on information kept from independent scientists concerning the oil spill

Comprehensive GIS map of fishing closures, testing sites, etc
Interactive map displaying variety of data in visual format

Gulf Seafood Testing
Small anecdotal study on Gulf Seafood

Call for more testing
Short blurb on need for more testing

Don't Kid Yourself, Oil isn't Gone
Local perspective on oil impact

Oil impacts on Oil and Pelican Nesting Grounds
Impacts of Oil on Pelican Nesting Grounds

Legacy of Past oil spills on biological resources
Legacy of past oil spills on biological resources

Impact of oil on micro-organisms and food chain
Impact of Oil on micro-organisms and potential impact on Food Chain

Threatas to Roosevelt Wildlife Refuge
Threat and History of Roosevelt Wildlife Refuge

Fiddler Crab study showing long term impacts of oil
Great Article about a creative study demonstrating the impacts of oil on fiddler crabs 40 years after an oil spill event

Role of Marsh Grass in the spill
Role of marsh grasses for the gulf biological resources

Impact to migratory birds
Impact of Oil on migratory bird species

Impact on sea cucumbers
Short article on impact to sea cucumbers

Wetland Foundation Video
The Wetland Foundation

Louisiana Impact Maps
Map of Affected areas in Louisiana, Updated daily

Gulf Impact Maps
Home Page of USFWS maps updated daily

Oysterman leaving his lease
Article on Oysterman closing because his lease crop is dead

Future of Fishing Industry
Article on Future of Fishing Industry

Federally listed species threatened by oil spill
Federal listing species threatened by the oil

  • Suggested Readings For Lecture 8: Panel Discussion: Beyond BP 

Disaster Plans Lacking at Deep Rigs
Disaster Plans lacking for BP and oil companies

Global Compensation for Oil Pollution Damages
Article advocating innovations of OPA

Louisiana Afraid to turn its back on Big Oil
Louisiana afraid to shun oil and gas industry

Gulf Ecosystems and Climate Change
Assessment of climate change impacts on coastal erosion

Voices of the gulf, a lost culture
Cost of lost culture

Regulators move from industry to government
Relationship of regulators and industry

Oil Spill regulators missed their chance
Failure of EIS and review process

Everglades offers model for restoration
Obama vows integrated coastal restoration plan

Liability Policy and Toxic Pollution
Investigation of effect of strict liability on toxic waste discharges

Compensation for Oil Pollution
Article advocating innovations of OPA

Post Katrina Diversion Plan
Freshwater diversion assessment plan

Research Topics & Guidelines

Relevant Databases

Center for Disease Control and Prevention
This on-line resource provides information on health risks for individuals exposed to oil, dispersants and other hazardous materials associated with the BP oil Spill.  The web-site includes protocols for minimizing risk for cleanup workers and information on the human health impacts of past oil spills

Environmental Protection Agency Response
Information includes toxicity testing and water, sediment and air sampling data collected throughout the gulf.  Transcripts of Congressional hearings, testimony and investigations related to the spill and spill response are also available.

Occupational Safety & Health Administration
This resource provides MSDS profiles, training information for responders and an overview of health risks.  Web page also provides information on various protocols and relevant statutes aimed at protecting working safety and industrial hygiene

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration
A resource for maps of oil spill coverage, fishing closures, and impaired wildlife.  NOAA's website also includes information and protocols for chemical and oil spill response throughout US coastal waters

NOAA web page with specific data from testing vessels deployed in response.  Access to sampling locations and metadata

Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Response
Federal Government's Unified Command webpage for all things oil spill related

Official US Government Web Portal
Federal Government Website

NASA aerial Imagery

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Information on previous oil spill research and links to a variety of expert testimonies and publications related to the BP oil spill

University of California Berkeley Law Library
A collection of major reports and documents covering the legal and regulatory framework of the BP oil spill and extraction industries in general.

Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science Oil Spill
Images from CSTAR collection and gulf modeling. 

Society of Wetland Scientists Response
Reports on the impact of oil on coastal systems and observed impacts to date.

Hypoxia in the Northern Gulf of Mexico
Web page dedicated to the Gulf deadzone and near shore coastal science

Louisiana State Oil Spill Media Center 

LSU Earth Scan Laboratory
Images of Gulf and Oil spill impacts

Southeastern Louisiana Environmental Research
Collection of data and efforts of Southeastern's Turtle Cove Research Facility

Houston Chronicle
The Houston Chronicle collection of materials on the Oil Spill.

New York Times
New York Times web page for BP related content

The Times Picayune
Time Picayune web page for BP related content

LSU Earth Scan Laboratory
Images of Gulf and Oil spill impacts

Encyclopedia of EarthWho's Watching
Provides a general overview of the Deepwater Horizon accident including well development, the explosion and spill response

Resources for the Future
Resources for the Future Oil research, economic and legal analysis papers

Society of Environmental Journalists
Collection of news reports from government and private sources


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