The global award in photography and sustainability

Daniel Beltrá


The oil-stained, blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico swirl in my mind’s eye like a grotesque painting. I worked off the coast of Louisiana during the spill, where approximately 4.9 million barrels of oil were released into the Gulf waters. The resulting photographs were taken from three thousand feet above, giving perspective to the environmental devastation below.

On 20 April 2010, BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico killing eleven crewmen and injuring seventeen, becoming the world’s largest marine oil spill. More than 600 miles of coastline were affected and show lingering signs of oil and dispersant. Layers of crude oil are still spread thick on the ocean floor, radiating far from the wellhead site. Scientists have determined that up to 75 per cent of the oil from BP’s disaster remains in the Gulf environment.

The Spill series is a first-hand account of this tragedy, and reveals our society’s obsessive dependence on petroleum. Every day in the United States, we use four times the volume of the oil released into the Gulf.

“Oil is the lifeblood of America’s economy,” says the US Department of Energy website; this statement has become an ironic metaphor for our current culture of consumption.

Daniel Beltrá