Most of the oil spills were amounts of oil that are considered to be small; less than ten barrels (420 gallons), ”81 percent were less than 10 bbl.” There is something peculiar about the next statement from the report.
“There have been 11 OCS platform spills greater than or equal to 1,000 bbl since 1964. Most of the large platform spills occurred prior to 1971.”
In 1979, a 140 million gallon oil disaster took place in the Gulf of Mexico. The oil platform was owned by the Mexican government, but a gigantic oil slick which formed over almost 10 months, did eventually reach Texas shorelines, and caused significant damage. So indeed a great number of gallons of spilled oil from the platform accident did impact U.S. waters.
Also the measurement of 1,000 barrels or less is sort of misleading, as a 1969 spill near Santa Barbara was about 420,000 gallons, or 100,000 barrels, not even close to 1,000 barrels. In addition, the report does not include a single reference to the environmental impact of all the spills. For example, in the single Santa Barbara spill, it was estimated 10,000 birds were killed.
So how useful is the document? Perhaps it provides a rough baseline for the amount of oil spilled in U.S. waters for about three decades. However, we have seen the relationship between Big Oil and the Mineral Management Service is potentially influenced by corruption and therefore the reporting that occurs may be biased in favor of the oil industry. In other words, there could be even more oil being spilled than is documented.