Internal Documents: BP Estimates Oil Spill Rate up to 100,000 Barrels Per Day
An internal BP document released by U.S. Representative Ed Markey (D-Mass.) today revealed that the worst-case scenario spill rate could be 100,000 barrels –or 4.2 million gallons– per day – substantially higher than the numbers originally released to the public.
“Right from the beginning, BP was either lying or grossly incompetent. First they said it was only 1,000. Then they said it was 5,000 barrels. Now we’re up to 100,000 barrels,” Markey said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Markey said that the company submitted the documents to Congress at a time when the leak was estimated at only 5,000 barrels a day, and BP told congressmen that the worst case scenario would be 60,000 barrels a day.
The scenario, according to the undated documents, can occur if the wellhead and blow-out preventer are removed from the well. “If we have incorrectly modeled the restrictions – the rate could be as high as (about) 100,000 barrels per day,” the document stated, although those numbers are considered to be “low probability worst case.”
A BP spokesman acknowledged that the document containing the flow rate estimates appeared to be genuine, but pointed to the fact that the calculations only applied to a scenario where the blow-out preventer is removed.
Markey, however, remained unconvinced. “Even if we can’t know for certain the condition of the well bore, we should have known how much oil could flow from it - BP did,” Markey added.
Mr. Markey cited Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen’s Thursday press briefing where the Admiral alluded to the fact that the condition of the well bore remains unknown. “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,” said Admiral Allen. “And we don’t know… if the well bore has been compromised or not.”
“This document raises very troubling questions about what BP knew and when they knew it. 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,” Markey, the Democratic chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment, noted in a statement released together with the document.
Markey also pointed out that BP has so far had a poor record of dealing with worst-case scenarios.