How Much Would You Pay to Prevent Another BP Oil Spill?

Apr 21, 2017

The 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion killed 11 people and dumped nearly 172 million pounds of petroleum into the Gulf of Mexico.
Credit U.S. Coast Guard via AP, File

Seven years ago, a BP-operated rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, leading to the largest oil spill in U.S. history. A new study released this week looks into American’s attitudes towards preventing another such spill.

Kevin Boyle is an agricultural and applied economics professor at Virginia Tech and is a study co-author. He and his team set out to find just how much Americans would be willing to pay to fund prevention efforts of another spill.

“What we found is that the typical or average person in the U.S. would pay about $150 to prevent a spill of this magnitude from occurring again in the Gulf.”

Boyle and his team provided survey respondents with a detailed proposal on a program that would do just that.

“That program entailed each time a well is drilled, a second well would be drilled that would tap into the same pipe, and so if the pressure ever built up in a well like it did with BP the second one could take off the pressure to prevent a massive oil spill from occurring.”

Boyle hopes his work will bring to light just how significant the loss of natural resources from the BP spill was to help prevent any disaster of that magnitude from occurring again.