Oil Spill: Measuring the Mess

 Oil Spill: Measuring the Mess

BP was scheduled to release an updated estimate for the Deepwater Challenger oil spill rate of flow yesterday, but all we have seen is BP’s denial that the firm provided the lowball estimate of 5,000 barrels a day. We know 5,000 barrels a day is a gross underestimate, since BP now claims it is pumping that much into a tanker from a tube insert and oil is still gushing from the sea floor pipe.

Academic engineers viewing recent video of the underwater spill site estimate the flow rate at anywhere from 20,000 to 125,000 barrels per day. BP seems to imply the initial 5,000 barrel daily rate was made by the government but, even if this is true, the company did nothing to correct the figure.

BP claims third-party estimates are inflated by gas and fail to account for the volume of natural gas in the mix. The National Incident Command has established a Flow Rate Technical Group to answer the disputed question, and BP is not part of the group.


“How Much Oil’s Spilling? It’s Not Rocket Science,” John Allen Paulos, ABC News.

“The Measure of a Disaster,” Ian R. MacDonald, John Amos, Timothy Crone, and Steve Wereley, New York Times op-ed.

“Purdue prof: Oil spill underestimated,” WANE.com

Oil Flow Rate Analysis, Deepwater Horizons Accident, Steve Wereley, Purdue University.

“Gulf oil spill: How big is the slick from BP’s Deepwater Horizon?” Richard Adams, The Guardian.

“BP withholds oil spill facts — and government lets it,” Marisa Taylor and Renee Schoof, McClatchy Newspapers.

“Federal task force assembled to measure volume of Gulf of Mexico oil spill,” Jaquetta White, The Times-Picayune.


Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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2 Responses to “Oil Spill: Measuring the Mess”

  1. kob Says:

    I wonder, sometimes seriously, how long before the entire Atlantic Ocean is polluted.

  2. Mike Licht Says:

    kob wrote: how long before the entire Atlantic Ocean is polluted.

    The BP spill hasn’t reachd the Atlantic yet, but it seems to be on its way to the Keys and Cuba. After it hits the Loop Current there’s a chance the Gulf Stream will take it around Florida and up the Atlantic seaboard.

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