+50 Ways of Visualizing BP’s Dark Mess

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It' been almost three months since the Deepwater Horizon disaster occurred, in the Mexican Gulf. Arguably, the most horrifying man-made environmental catastrophe of all times, it has been illustrated all over the world in magazines, newspapers and websites.

Contrarily to my last post here on Inspired Magazine, this one is not filled with joy and good expectations, typical of a big sports fan like I am. Today, we’ll see how information design can also show the less enjoyable side of our life, and how powerful it can be unveiling the cruel facts behind such tragedies as this one.

Enough words, enough said – let’s just dive in the facts , and call for action.

Why offshore drilling?

Before we start getting into the Gulf accident, let’s just quickly try to understand why offshore drilling was such a priority for the United States.

Burning Trough Oil

Oil, What’s Left

U.S. Oil Consumption vs. Production

Just how reliant is the US on foreign oil?


Oil and Alternatives

Energy Bill vs Oil Companies Contributions to Senators

Offshore Drilling

Oil Primer: Where it Comes From, Where it Goes

Greenopia’s Top 5 Oil Companies and their Oil Spills

Understanding Oil Spills and a look into the Past

It happens more often than we’d like, and still the World lacks alternatives to avoid that history keeps repeating itself.

The physics of oil spills

The World’s Most Disasterous Oil Spills

Worst Oil Spills

The Worst Spills

The world’s largest oil spills

The Biggest Oil Spills

Comparing Exxon Valdez to the Gulf Oil Spill

The Deepwater Horizon Disaster

I’ve worked in several oil rigs for a couple of years, although never in the Mexican Gulf region. And, for those who never had the chance to see one up close, I can only describe my feeling as a mix of admiration and a certain amount of fear. It’s an engineering work of art, a technology wonder, and a time-bomb.

This recent accident as been one of the most covered one’s, and there are some great visualizations out there showing the terrifying numbers behind it.

How the Gulf of Mexico oil spill happened

Oil Spill Timeline

Timeline: Oil spill in the Gulf

Tracking the Oil Spill in the Gulf

Gulf Coast oil spill

CNN Tracking the Gulf oil disaster

CNN Map: Impact of the oil disaster

Deepwater Horizon : la marée noire du siècle

Day 54 of Gulf Oil Disaster

The Evolving Estimates Of BP’s Oil Leak

Just How Bad is the BP Oil Spill?

Oil disaster by the numbers

Gulf oil spill by the numbers

The Spilled Disaster


The Size of the Oil Spill

In Deep Water

The Cost of Clumsiness


Cost and Effects of The BP Oil Spill

Gulf Oil Spill Numbers

The Current State of the Gulf Oil Spill

The Oil spill

How did the oil and gas sector fare last year?

Measures taken – or attempted

From the very beginning, everybody knew this would not be an easy mess to clean up. Several efforts are being made, but the oil is still spreading.

Deepwater Horizon’s Cementing

First success in oil spill cleanup


Riser Insertion Tube Tool

Drilling the relief wells

Containment dome to collect leaking oil in Gulf of Mexico

Relief Well Reaches 8,000 Feet

What’s going on beneath the sea?

A Lot more than Money

There’s been a lot of talk, in the media, about the economic and financial impact, but let’s not forget that, first of all, this is a tremendous environmental disaster – and that human life’s were lost.

Deepwater Horizon Victims

How oil spills endanger sea life

The US Oil Spill Endangers the Rare Bird’s Habitat Near the Coastal Islands

Nantucket Windfarm vs. Gulf Oil Spill, Which Impacts the Environment More?

Who’s to Blame?

With such a negative impact on the environment and people’s lifes, there’s no way BP’s going to pass the public opinion judgment. And we’re still yet to see if its going to survive.

Who’s the Boss?

BP’s Production Costs vs Production in the Gulf

Egregious Citations Issued to BP

Irony, or Dark Humor?

And still, after all we’ve shown, facing the situation with some irony is possible:

Fun Ways to Measure the Size of the BP Gulf Oil Spill


The Skinny On The Oil Spill

Surface of the Earth

Coke + BP


Of course, there must be hundreds of other designs and visualization tools for such an disastrous event. Share them with us, and we’ll definitely include them on a future post.

Because, unfortunately, this Dark Mess is far from ending.

Bogdan Rancea

Bogdan is a founding member of Inspired Mag, having accumulated almost 6 years of experience over this period. In his spare time he likes to study classical music and explore visual arts. He’s quite obsessed with fixies as well. He owns 5 already.

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