Where's the oil? Auburn Engineering professor offers opinion

Published: Aug 13, 2010 10:00:00 AM
Media Contact: Sally Credille, src0007@auburn.edu, 334-844-3447

Source: Fox10tv.com

"Slick dissipates, but where's it going?"

    * Matt Barrentine
    * Photojournalist: Guy Turnbow


The surface of the Gulf is quickly returning to normal as the oil breaks apart and dissipates, but is that oil gone for good or is it just hidden from view?

The government estimates three-quarters of the oil from the BP well was contained, skimmed, dissipated, or evaporated. However, that still leaves 53 million gallons unaccounted for.

"My professional opinion is there's a lot of oil mass hidden beneath the water column," Dr. Prabhakar Clement from Auburn University said.

Dr. Clement has been studying how the oil has spread and he's not surprised that the oil has seemingly disappeared so quickly.

"You're talking about a huge area and a huge volume, so once you cut off the source, you're dispersing the bulk of oil that is still out there," explained Dr. Clement.

There has been a dramatic difference over the last month with how much oil is on the surface of the Gulf Of Mexico. The NOAA forecast for July 4 showed oil everywhere. On August 4, there was very little oil at all.


Dr. Bob Shipp at the University of South Alabama has been studying the impacts of the oil on marine life, sending remote cameras into the murky depths. He says the oil may be out of sight but it's still there.

"What were concerned about is the oil that was quote dispersed some people have the idea when it's dispersed that it's gone, but it's not," Dr. Shipp said.

Shipp says the little droplets of oil are likely killing sea life. But even so, so far few contaminated fish have been found leaving him hopeful that Gulf waters may soon reopen to anglers.

"Our feeling is yeah, we do need to run these tests for sure, " Shipp said. "But I'm pretty optimistic."

Shipp is more concerned with the long-term impacts of the oil. So his team is ramping up its studies and hoping to figure out what lurks beneath the surface.


Dr. Shipp is also hopeful that a short red snapper season could be opened in October. That depends on tests for contaminants, and a survey of the health of the population.

Published : Wednesday, 04 Aug 2010, 5:56 PM CDT

To hear more about the oil spill from Dr. Clement visit this link.