Gulf Gusher May Have Spewed up to 40,000 Barrels a Day
Shortly after BP announced some success in capping the gushing wellhead in the Gulf of Mexico, a government panel released a new estimate of the oil flow. According to the panel, up to 40,000 barrels, or 1.7 million gallons, of oil have been spewing into the Gulf every day—meaning that an amount equivalent to the Exxon Valdez spill could be flowing into the Gulf every eight to 10 days.
The new estimate, however, is based on information gathered before BP cut a riser pipe last week to install a cap; a risky operation that many scientists predicted could increase the spill flow by four to five percent. The panel is currently preparing another estimate that will cover the period since the pipe was cut. This latest estimate was calculated in part by using the high definition video BP released earlier this week under Congressional pressure.
These higher estimates will not only give us a better picture of the environmental damage being caused by the spill, but also impact how much BP may eventually have to pay in penalties (which are calculated by barrel of oil released). And, of course, it will likely increase the suspicion among skeptics about how honest and transparent BP has been throughout the catastrophe.