The Holy Crap moment

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UPDATE: Until verified, direct at-the-source flow measurments are produced, that 70K figure must be heavily salted. As must the “official” 5K bbl/day figure.  BP (with the US government’s apparent acquiescence) is keeping this data to themselves, and without 3rd party measurements and confirmation it’s all PR and SWAG. Unbelievable.  Anyway, just for kicks, my SWAG for the flow rate is about 25K bbl/day.

About an hour ago NPR reported a new estimate for the flow rate of the Gulf oil gusher: At least 70,000 bbl/day. Yes, 14 times the previous rate.

It’s still unclear if this revised estimate is “official”, with endorsement from the Coast Guard or other agency. If so we have crossed a fairly serious cusp. There have been a number of flow rate estimates, including a flurry over the last 24hrs as BP finally released video of the spewing wellhead riser. Most have produced figures in excess of the 5000 bbl/day that has been the official number for the last couple of weeks. Now, with the release of yesterday’s video, more accurate estimates are possible.  And it is very ugly.

At 70K bbl/day (+- 20%) we are running out about 1 Exxon Valdez (the defacto domestic benchmark) of crude into the Gulf evey 4 days.

But that’s not the really troubling part (!). These new estimates are possible ONLY because BP finally released video of the firehosing leak. They have been able to see this footage for days, if not weeks, yet have continued to run with the 5K bbl/day figure, claiming that flow rate estimation is not possible.

Really? It looks like various professionals, scientists and interested amateurs have crowsourced a consensus in about 12hrs.  Surely the on-site, on-team BP experts could have some rough idea about the Macondo well leak rate!

So one or more of the following has happened:

  • The flow rate jumped monstrously (>14x!) in the last day and BP hasn’t had time to notice.
  • BP already estimated a much higher rate and kept it to themselves (To be fair I’ll go out of my way not to say they kept video locked up for PR reasons).

Neither of these are good, for BP or the Gulf.

In updated reporting, NPR notes that these new estimates are disputed by BP which maintains that flow rate estimation is not possible.  Double down, baby!

postscript: I rail at NPR quite a bit but they seem to have the scoop here. Good Job! Nothing at all on the cable news ‘shows’ over an hour after the NPR break.  Quick, schedule a celebrity interview! Get Gupta & Cooper into epauletted shirts and G5’ed down to the Gulf Coast, stat!


Written by nullsequence

May 14, 2010 at 2:25 am

Posted in travesty

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