In April 2010, a gigantic explosion on an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico caused a natural disaster. What do you already know about the catastrophe? Try to answer the following questions before you watch the video.
  • What does BP stand for?
    • BP is short for Brazilian Petrol.
    • BP is short for Bad Petrol.
    • BP is short for British Petroleum.
  • How many barrels of oil are flowing out of the well each day?
    • It is estimated that the oil well is leaking 5000 barrels each day (1 barrel equals 158.984 Litres).
    • It is estimated that the oil well is leaking 70,000 to 150,000 barrels each day (1 barrel equals 158.984 Litres).
    • It is estimated that the oil well is leaking 35,000 to 60,000 barrels each day (1 barrel equals 158.984 Litres).
Watch this video to find out about the latest attempt to stop the oil from flowing out of the well. After you watched the video, try to answer the questions below.
  1. How long has the oil catastrophe been going on?
    • The oil catastrophe has been going on for more than 12 weeks.
    • The oil catastrophe has been going on for abouth two months.
  2. What else does BP do to stop the oil flow?
    • BP drills a relief well just 30 metres from the original well, which will reduce the pressure and help to keep the other well closed.
    • BP asked Barack Obama for financial help.
  3. How much percent of the oil does Thad Allen, the National Incident Commander, think can be stopped from flowing into the water?
    • He estimates that 100 percent can be stopped.
    • He estimates that 50 percent can be stopped.
    • He estimates that 80 percent can be stopped.
  4. What did BP do in order to stop the oil flow?
    • BP placed a cap over the well.
    • BP ordered a big tank to suck the oil in.
    • BP drilled a new even bigger oil well next to the other one to release pressure.
Read this text to get background information on the catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill (also referred to as the BP oil spill, the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the BP oil disaster or the Macondo blowout) is a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that is the largest offshore spill in U.S. history. By late May or early June 2010, some estimates placed it among the largest oil spills in history with hundreds of millions of gallons spilled to date. The spill stemmed from a sea-floor oil gusher that resulted from the April 20, 2010 Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion. The explosion killed 11 platform workers and injured 17 others. On July 15, 2010, BP said the leak had been stopped by capping the gushing oil wellhead, though there is a risk that a significant pressure shift could create a new leak on the sea floor. The drilling of relief wells to permanently close the well is ongoing.
The spill continues to cause extensive damage to marine and wildlife habitats as well as the Gulf's fishing and tourism industries. There have been a variety of efforts to stem the flow at the wellhead. Crews have been working to protect hundreds of miles of beaches, wetlands and estuaries along the northern Gulf coast, using skimmer ships, floating containment booms, anchored barriers, and sand-filled barricades along shorelines. The U.S. Government has named BP as the responsible party, and officials have committed to holding the company accountable for all cleanup costs and other damage.
What is your opinion on the catastrophe? Do you think BP should be punished and oil drilling should be completely forbidden? Or do you think it is not that bad at all? Write a short text and tell us about your views on the oil spill. Afterwards you can compare your text to a sample solution.
In my opinion deepsea drilling should be forbidden. We should only drill in depths where we can still control the effects of our doing. The oil catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico clearly shows that we are not able to control the results if something goes wrong in 10.000 metres under the sea. As long as there is no save way to get oil from the sea, we should not take the risk. It is too dangerous and destroys our nature. We should rather use reneweable energies instead of exploiting and damaging nature.

The oil spill endangers many animals that live in the sea or along the coastline. Below you can learn the English words for some sea creatures.

1. Wordlist

  • seal
    • seal, seals[siːl](noun)
    • Definition:
      • a fin-footed, fish-eating mammal, typically sleek-bodied and barrel-shaped
    • Example:
      • Seals can hold their breath for nearly two hours underwater.
  • shark
    • shark, sharks[ʃɑː(r)k](noun)
    • Definition:
      • a type of fish with a full cartilaginous skeleton and a highly streamlined body, diversifying into 440 species, found in all seas and common down to depths of 2,000 metres (6,600 ft)
    • Example:
      • The shark's survival is under serious threat from fishing and other human activities.
  • whale
    • whale, whales[weɪl](noun)
    • Definition:
      • a marine mammal with forelimbs modified as fins, a tail with horizontal flukes, and nasal openings on top of the head, ranging in size from the blue whale, the largest animal known to have ever existed at 35 m (115 ft) and 150 tonnes (150 lbs), to various smaller species
    • Example:
      • Whales collectively inhabit all the world's oceans and number in the millions.
  • tortoise
    • tortoise, tortoises[tɔː(r)təs](noun)
    • Definition:
      • land-dwelling reptiles, varying in size from a few centimeters to two meters and shielded from predators by a shell
    • Example:
      • Female tortoises dig nesting burrows in which they lay from one to thirty eggs.
      • Synonym(s):
  • shell
    • shell, shells[ʃɛl](noun)
    • Definition:
      • a hard, protective outer layer, that was created by a sea creature, a marine organism
    • Example:
      • There is often a surprising degree of variation in the exact shape, pattern, ornamentation, and colour of the shell.
  • dolphin
    • dolphin, dolphins[ˈdɒlfɪn](noun)
    • Definition:
      • an aquatic mammal closely related to whales and porpoises, inhabiting mostly the shallower seas of the continental shelves, famed for its intelligence and occasional willingness to approach humans
    • Example:
      • Dolphins can hear frequencies ten times or more above the upper limit of adult human hearing.
  • fish
    • fish[ˈfɪʃ](uncountable noun)
    • Definition:
      • a cold-blooded vertebrate animal that lives in water, moving with the help of fins and breathing with gills
    • Example:
      • They have many fish in their aquarium.

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