Evaluation of Crude Oil Degradation Under a no-control and Dispersant-Control Settings, Based on Biological and Physical Techniques


Department of Zoology, Faculty of Science, University of Lagos, Akoka, Lagos, Nigeria


The degradation of crude oil under a no-control and dispersant-control setting was evaluated using loss of biological activity test, microbial population growth and measurements of optical transmittance of test media. Comparison of the toxicity of crude oil under the no-control setting to crude oil-dispersant mixture revealed that the mixture was about 2 times more toxic than the crude oil under the no response strategy. Furthermore, the results of the toxicity testing experiments also showed that under the no-control setting, there was a loss in the toxicity of the crude oil from 6.03mL/L - 9.43 mL/L compared to crude oil-dispersant mixture where the toxicity of the crude oil-dispersant mixture was found to remain fairly constant with LC50 value of the mixture ranging from 4.0 mg/L to 4.38 mg/L over the 28 days experimental period. On the basis of the regression coefficient factor (R2), loss of biological activity during the no-control setting was found to be about 3 times more than under the dispersant-control setting. The result of the measurement of optical transmittance of crude oil depicting rate of emulsification under the no-control and dispersantcontrol settings revealed that level of light transmittance under no-control setting ranged from 0% to 84%, while under the dispersant-control setting light transmittance ranged from 0% to 72% over the 28 days of observation. The derived regression factor (R2) however revealed that under the dispersant-control setting, the rate of emulsification and degradation of crude oil was faster (R2 = 0.96) than under the no-control setting (R2 = 0.77). The result of the microbial growth assays also revealed that under the dispersant-control setting, the numbers of microbial colony forming units was about 7 folds higher than the number of colony forming units observed under the no-control setting. The usefulness of the methods for assessing crude oil degradation and its implications for choosing dispersants and making decision on whether or not to deploy dispersants for oil spill control are discussed.