Study Shows Bacteria Contributed to Consumption of 200,000 tons of Oil and Gas

 Oil slick, photo provided by John Kessler.

Oil slick, photo provided by John Kessler.

Scientists who tracked deep underwater oil and gas plumes after the Deepwater Horizon incident concluded that the respiration of dissolved and trapped hydrocarbons resulted in reduced dissolved oxygen concentrations from a bloom of hydrocarbon-eating bacteria.

These naturally occurring microbes then consumed an estimated 200,000 tons of hydrocarbons, and the study suggests that the use of dispersants at the wellhead increased the speed of this process. The researchers published their findings in the August 2012 edition of Environmental Science and TechnologyAssessment of the spatial and temporal variability of bulk hydrocarbon respiration following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

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