Biodegradation of dispersed Macondo oil in seawater at low temperature and different oil droplet sizes

TitleBiodegradation of dispersed Macondo oil in seawater at low temperature and different oil droplet sizes
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsBrakstad OG, Nordtug T, Throne-Holst M
JournalMarine pollution bulletin
Volume93
Pagination144-52
Date Published2015-Apr-15
Accession NumberMEDLINE:25746198
KeywordsOil and Gas Degradation
AbstractDuring the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) accident in 2010 a dispersant (Corexit 9500) was applied at the wellhead to disperse the Macondo oil and reduce the formation of surface slicks. A subsurface plume of small oil droplets was generated near the leaking well at 900-1300m depth. A novel laboratory system was established to investigate biodegradation of small droplet oil dispersions (10mum or 30mum droplet sizes) of the Macondo oil premixed with Corexit 9500, using coastal Norwegian seawater at a temperature similar to the DWH plume (4-5°C). Biotransformation of volatile and semivolatile hydrocarbons and oil compound groups was generally faster in the 10mum than in the 30mum dispersions, showing the importance of oil droplet size for biodegradation. These data therefore indicated that dispersant treatment to reduce the oil droplet size may increase the biodegradation rates of oil compounds in the deepwater oil droplets.
DOI10.1016/j.marpolbul.2015.02.006