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BP Makes Gulf of Mexico Environmental Data Publicly Available

Access to data from the Deepwater Horizon Response and environmental assessment will lead to a better understanding of the condition of the Gulf

BP yesterday announced it is launching an effort to make a vast quantity of environmental data collected from the Gulf of Mexico publicly available and easily accessible.

The data were collected by federal and state agencies and BP through the Deepwater Horizon Response and Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA). Since April 2010, researchers at sea, on land, and in the air have collected an unprecedented amount of data on environmental conditions in the Gulf, including more than 2.3 million lines of water chemistry data being published today in the first release.

The data will be published on the BP website at The data were collected to help guide clean-up efforts under the direction of the U.S. Coast Guard and to support efforts by state and federal agencies and BP to evaluate potential injury to natural resources in the Gulf of Mexico as part of the NRDA process.

Making the information available online will enable more people to use the data for research and other studies. The website builds upon other efforts BP has made to share scientific information with the public and the research community. These efforts have included producing progress reports on the NRDA effort, posting information online, and making presentations at scientific conferences. BP also promotes scientific understanding by providing independent researchers with oil samples from the Macondo well or surrogate oil that has similar characteristics.

“Providing access to this significant body of scientific information will help enhance Gulf-related scientific research and improve the public’s understanding of the condition of the Gulf of Mexico,” said Laura Folse, BP’s Executive Vice President for Response and Environmental Restoration.  “Making the data and supporting information available in a usable format is part of BP’s ongoing effort to keep the public informed about potential injuries to, and the recovery of, natural resources in the Gulf.”

Following today’s initial release, more data releases are planned in 2014.  Data to be published in the future include samples that are now in various stages of analysis, validation, and quality control review by government agencies.  Once these reviews are completed and the data are released to BP, the company plans to make the data available through the  

Datasets to be released will cover the following resource categories: oil, water, sediments, shoreline, environmental toxicology, birds, fish and shellfish (aquatic biology), marine mammals and sea turtles, as well as a miscellaneous category, which will include data that do not fit into the other categories. The data on this website will be posted without interpretation.  

Initial Data Release

The first data released today and available on the website are in the water and oil categories. They include:

  • Water chemistry – One of the largest collections of data amassed in the aftermath of the accident, this data includes analytical chemistry results of water samples collected as part of more than 70 Response and NRDA studies.  Also included in the data is information on concentrations of the common chemical constituents of crude oil, such as volatile hydrocarbons, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), saturated hydrocarbons (SHC), and petroleum biomarkers.
  • Oil characteristics – This collection of data includes information on the composition of oil released from the Macondo well, and analyses of Macondo oil in various degrees of degradation, or weathering.  The first dataset available in this area relates to oil obtained from the vessel Q4000.  Oil was collected using a containment system that conveyed fresh oil from the well into a pipe connected to the vessel.  This sample of Macondo oil is the freshest (least weathered) oil sample collected after the accident. Analyses of more weathered oil will be provided in the future.
  • Oil analyses for water chemistry lab calibration – Macondo source oil was analyzed as a quality control sample by analytical laboratories along with analyses of environmental samples collected in the field.  This quality control sample analysis is generally referred to as “MC252 control oil.” 

Interested parties can register on the website to receive email notification when new datasets are added.  State and federal agencies have also made some of the datasets available online through government websites.

Supplemental Information

All datasets made publicly available through the website will be accompanied by supplemental information that provides context on why, where, and how the data were collected. The supplemental information may vary, but will generally include:

  • Data Publication Summary Reports that summarize important information concerning the data, including timeframe and location/collection information.  These reports will also include descriptions of the studies that contributed to the data.
  • Reports that provide comments on data based on BP’s quality assurance and quality control process.
  • Sample maps that provide a visual representation of the location where samples were collected.
  • Work plans that describe the scientific studies that were developed to examine possible oil exposure pathways and potential associated injuries.  More than 200 initial and amended NRDA work plans were developed to cooperatively study resources and habitat.

Some of the data collected through the Response and NRDA efforts have already been used in reports and scientific papers published by government agencies, the academic community, industry groups, BP and others.



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