BP’s Worst-Case Estimate Puts Gulf Gusher at 100,000 Barrels/Day

Still of the live-feed, 6/21/10.

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


Depending on the condition of BP’s well, the Gulf oil gusher could leak up to 100,000 barrels per day, according to an internal BP document released by congressional investigators yesterday, and a senior House Democrat says that the company lied to Congress about how bad the Guld disaster could get.

While BP was reporting the 100,000-barrel worst-case-scenario figure internally, it was still giving the public and investigators a much lower estimate. Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), chairman of one of the subcommittees leading the investigation, pointed out that BP representatives told his committee last month that the worst case scenario was only 60,000 barrels per day, despite the fact that the internal estimate indicates that the company has known for some time that it could be much higher.

Up until a few weeksa go, BP was still telling the public that the well was only leaking 5,000 barrels per day (after first claiming it was just 1,000. The Obama administration’s flow rate team now puts the figure as high as 60,000 barrels per day.

Yet the BP document, turned over to congressional investigators on May 24, notes that an even higher rate of leakage could occur if the blowout preventer and well-head are further compromised:

If BOP and wellhead are removed and if we have incorrectly modeled the restrictions – the rate could be as high as ~ 100,000 barrels per day up the casing or 55,000 barrels per day up the annulus (low probability worst cases)

At this point, it’s hard to say whether this worst-case scenario could play out. “I think that one thing that nobody knows is the condition of the well bore from below the blowout preventer down to the actual oil field itself,” Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen said last week. “And we don’t know, we don’t know if the well bore has been compromised or not.”

But what seems clear is that BP was well aware that the spill was much worse than they were letting on. “This document raises very troubling questions about what BP knew and when they knew it,” said Markey. “It is clear that, from the beginning, BP has not been straightforward with the government or the American people about the true size of this spill. BP needs to tell us what it will do if the well bore is compromised and 100,000 barrels per day of oil spills into the ocean.”

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Corporations and billionaires don’t fund journalism like ours that exists to shake things up. Instead, support from readers allows Mother Jones to call it like it is without fear, favor, or false equivalence.

And right now, a longtime friend of Mother Jones has pledged an incredibly generous gift to inspire—and double—giving from online readers. That's huge! Because you can see that our fall fundraising drive is well behind the $325,000 we need to raise. So if you agree that in-depth, fiercely independent journalism matters right now, please support our work and help us raise the money it takes to keep Mother Jones charging hard. Your gift, and all online donations up to $94,000 total, will be matched and go twice as far—but only until the November 9 deadline.

$400,000 to go: Please help us pick up the pace!

payment methods

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Corporations and billionaires don’t fund journalism like ours that exists to shake things up. Instead, support from readers allows Mother Jones to call it like it is without fear, favor, or false equivalence.

And right now, a longtime friend of Mother Jones has pledged an incredibly generous gift to inspire—and double—giving from online readers. That's huge! Because you can see that our fall fundraising drive is well behind the $325,000 we need to raise. So if you agree that in-depth, fiercely independent journalism matters right now, please support our work and help us raise the money it takes to keep Mother Jones charging hard. Your gift, and all online donations up $94,000 total, will be matched and go twice as far—but only until the November 9 deadline.

$400,000 to go: Please help us pick up the pace!

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate