Oil Spill Equal to 3 Beers Poured in Superdome

New Orleans aerial view, with Superdome in foreground, Feb. 23, 2006
By CBS News' Paula Reid

How big was the oil spill in the Gulf? It was equal to pouring three cans of beer into the Superdome.

The spill has cost BP and the government over $1.5 billion and the impact on citizens, businesses, and wildlife is impossible to calculate. But compared to the vast size of the Gulf of Mexico, the spill is extremely small.

Four million barrels of oil leaked into the vast Gulf which contains over 643 quadrillion gallons of water. The scale of the spill is easier to understand when scaled to something most of us understand: beer and football.

The cavernous Louisiana Superdome could hold approximately 1.14 billion gallons of beer. Even using the higher estimate of the oil in the Gulf, the oil amount of oil spilled into the Gulf is the equivalent of spilling three 12-ounce cans of beer into the Superdome.

Calculation summary:

168,000,000/643,000,000,000,000,000 = .0000000002612 (percent of Gulf which contains oil); 146,388,363,264 ounces (volume of the Superdome); 146,388,363,264 x .0000000002612 = 38 ounces or 3 cans or beer.