Yesterday the U.S. government upped its official estimate of the amount of oil leaking out of BP's broken pipe to 35,000 to 60,000 barrels a day.
Last week they estimated it was 20,000 to 40,000 barrels a day. Right after the Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank (taking 11 men with it), BP's estimate was 1,000 barrels a day, then 5,000 barrels.
It's in BP's best interest as a corporation to keep the official estimate as low as possible. The higher the estimates go, the more money they will have to pay in fines. They delayed putting a flow-rate sensor into the pipe for as long as they could (claiming they were too busy trying to stop the flow to install it ... how'd that work out?) and were finally forced to add the sensor by the government.
Independent scientists have made estimates as high as 100,000 barrels of oil a day after reviewing the scarce evidence BP has shared. At that rate the leak is dumping out enough oil to fill a 50-gallon barrel every second. It's Exxon Valdez every four days. It's really, really bad.
I'm predicting that the official estimates will eventually tickle 100,000 barrels of oil a day. At the rate the estimates have been jumping, we could see it hit that lofty mark as early as July.
And remember, this thing won't end until at least August, and that's under BP's best-case scenario. If their history is any indication of current and future performance, it could be well past Christmas by the time they get the leak shut off ... at 126 million gallons of oil (3 million barrels) a month.
And the oil gushes on.
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