June 20, 2010

Worst case scenario for the Gulf oil spill: 4.2 million gallons per day

Posted: 06:36 PM ET

You've seen the devastation. Now it's your chance to help. Tune in Monday night for a special "Larry King Live, Disaster in the Gulf: How You Can Help" telethon featuring an all-star panel of guests joining forces in the Gulf region. Don't miss "Larry King Live," 8 p.m. ET Monday on CNN.

(CNN) - A BP estimate made after the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon noted that as much as 100,000 barrels per day could leak into the ocean if the blowout preventer and wellhead were removed, a higher worst-case scenario than previously reported.

According to an internal BP document released Sunday by Rep. Edward Markey, D-Massachusetts, BP believed that the worst-case scenario could be as high as 100,000 barrels, or 4.2 million gallons of oil per day.

The figure is the highest yet to surface regarding the leaking oil well. At the disaster's outset, BP claimed the leak was about 1,000 barrels a day, a number it later revised to 5,000 and then much higher. BP told the House Energy and Commerce Committee that the worst-case scenario was 60,000 barrels (2.5 million gallons) a day, lower than what the document states.

The document, submitted in May, maintains the 60,000 barrel estimate, but stipulates that if the "blowout preventer and wellhead are removed and if we have incorrectly modeled the restrictions, the rate could be as high as 100,000 barrels a day."

Markey said the document "raises very troubling questions about what BP knew and when they knew it."


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Jacqueline Padilla   June 20th, 2010 7:22 pm ET

This is "unbelievable" and very tragic. I don't think British Petroleum knows what the truth is if it slapped them in the face. The only reason they are cleaning the oil from the gulf, is because they have to. As long they continue to lie to everyone including themselves, nothing will go right for them. The 2 drill holes that they are working on to stop the oil, are ahead of schedule. Again, someone should follow-up on that. I am sure they are cutting corners to save money and at the same time, they are putting our waters, fishermen, wild life, and everything in jeopardy.

The Reasonable Voice   June 20th, 2010 7:24 pm ET

I'm afraid since 1980 when Corporations became the puppeteers holding the strings to our puppet government, and most recently the gift of power over our elections, given to them by our Supremely corrupt highest court in the land, the practice of speaking partial truth in baby steps, is the M. O. of those who feel strongly that "We The small People" just can't handle the Truth. Just as Jim Crow was convinced black people wanted to be slaves, because they needed to be taken care of.

Candy°°   June 20th, 2010 7:32 pm ET

that's bad Larry, that's very bad ...

Nalani   June 20th, 2010 9:25 pm ET

We as humans have come up against a wall. We either need to change our life style, or destroy our planet and everything on it including us.

Klytus   June 20th, 2010 9:58 pm ET

Why the deception on BP's part? Surely they realized that in time the true volume of oil would be discovered? It suggests a corporation frightened and completely unprepared for the enormity of the ongoing disaster. Does this mirror BP's actual attempts at stopping the oil flow? Small, timid steps that have proved ineffective. Both efforts to stop the oil flow failed. Now BP is attempting to collect as much oil as possible. The design of the first collection tube was too small to capture all the oil. I believe another collection tube is being constructed that is larger than the first. None of this speaks well of the problem solving capabilities of BP. A learning curve that grows more expensive for everyone.

Waffle_Huntress   June 20th, 2010 10:08 pm ET

We are lucky in the sense that this happened to BP and not another oil company.

1 – BP has deep enough pockets to absorb this and didn't file Chapter 11 on April 21.

2 – BP is actually stepping to the plate and not hiding behind a shield of lawyers. Does anyone remember how Exxon handled the Alaska spill in 1989? If not, it just got settled last year, and for much less than they were on the hook for 20 years prior. Grant it there has been legislation since then, but I'm sure it would be getting handled much differently.

lcyrlpn   June 20th, 2010 10:47 pm ET

we were told this amount, 100,000 barrels per day, several days after the rig exploded. We all knew when the experts were telling us that BP was lying to the world. I agree the government does not wish to alarm the 'small people' but the scientists knew this early on. I disagree that BP is innocent in their deception and they are most definitely hiding behind lawyers aka professional liars. BP is stepping to the plate? BP has denied access to much of the information regarding the spill. BP will not let people see the suffering of the environment nor properly report the damages done. BP is absolutely a product of corporate greed to the detriment of societies and the planet at large. Do not be deluded that any large corporation has the 'small people' at heart; they are FOR profit which dictates the amount of acceptable losses.
We, the small people, must change our minds about energy independence and renewable energies. Until the masses demand clean renewable energy instead of devestating disasters in ever increasing size and scope, we will stay dependent on oil and fossil fuels to the detriment of our and future generations. It is up to us, the small people, to elect, support, demand drastic changes in our energy system.

Floyd Mills   June 20th, 2010 11:38 pm ET

grI think the dangers lurking are the potential of a still more massive leak if the BOP were to be removed from the well. But, of course no one is going to intentionally do that. But what if pressure from the well were to blow the BOP off the drill collumn? Apparently the BOP is leaning and damaged. I am no expert and do not fulling understand the m.echanics of the attachment of BOP to the sea floor and the well column

Smith in Oregon   June 21st, 2010 1:15 am ET

Methane Gas, Crude Oil and SAND is blasting up thru the blow-out preventer at an estimated 13,000 PSI. That immense pressure is enough to blast thru and slice up metal. Undoubtedly the guts of the BOP and the well casing itself are being abraded and ground down by that intense 24/7 sandblasting outflow.

There have been several rumors that the failed top kill was stopped after it appeared the intense pressure to overcome the 13,000 PSI outflow had shattered some of the drill casings and the rumors suggested outflows erupting from the Ocean floor as a result of the outflow spewing thru Teutonic faults and stress fractures to exit the seafloor.

Floyd Mills   June 21st, 2010 1:26 am ET

Sorry, my comment became garbled and partially lost. May I begin again? Thank you.

It seems clear that great care that has been taken in very slowly closing the vents on the containment cap. Great care has been taken to keep a good flow going through the containment cap and from the well. It seems fair to say that this care is being taken due to fears that a buildup of pressure under the containment cap might blow the containment cap off the stub of the riser and allow oil to flow freely at a much higher volume.
But the fact that the connection between the riser and the containment cap is the weakest link might, in some way, be a good thing for if the containment cap were to be forced off the stub of the riser due to a surge in pressure, it could be put back.
If BP changes the containment cap and bolts it directly to the BOP as they say they intend to do, they could be opening themselves (And our precious Gulf) to an even greater ♠potential catastrophe. Supposing the new riser gets clogged and a pressure surge blows the BOP off the drill column? Then we would have a leak of 100,000 or more barrels a day and there would be nothing to attach a riser too. There would be no clear way to slow the gushing at all until the relief wells were finished.

The complications, if this were to transpire, could be even greater. For example an unrestricted flow from that well could erode the drill column and enlarge it causing a progression to higher and higher flows. It could run away and this might preclude the success of the bottom kill through a relief well.

We might freak out and try explosives. It might melt the column closed but it might create fishers and cracks with oil flowing through many paths and a leak that is unstoppable.

The point is that know body knows just what the effects of various well-meant actions might be. So it is perhaps better to let this play out, as frustrating as it may be, by simply and gradually adding more siphons and trying to capture as much oil as we can without taking the chance of disrupting the BOP.

Sadly, even this conservative approach might not work.



















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Nikki Oldaker   June 21st, 2010 9:25 am ET

Thank you Larry –for the telethon - I'm still waiting now on day 63 for President Obama to stop dragging his feet and assign L General Honore' to Command and Control in the Gulf Oil spill– He says we need the Navy to work with the Coast Guard as well as boots on the ground on shore – Re: National Guard. The L General has proven experience in these kinds of disasters and I, along with many others trust his judgement. He also said our military is supposed to protect our shores first before any other mission.

kyle   June 21st, 2010 10:03 am ET

This is insane. You almost have to wonder if there really is a plan to stop this leak or if the government is just making use of a good catastrophe. The government treats BP like they own them, which big oil pretty much does but it is getting a bit "cartoony" now. The president looks like he doesn't really even care about what's happening, the stats are all fudged, and the clean-up and containment attempts would be laughable it wasn't so sad. This whole thing will probably lead us into a depression by the time it's capped, yeah I said it. And when I say capped I mean when the relief wells are drilled, which will take many attempts. Having it work on the first attempt by August is like winning the lottery. In 20 years the gulf will still be filled with sludge, how sad. What a waste of a beautiful earth for corporate gain indeed.
Maybe all this alternative energy technology that has been suppressed and bought out by the oil companies will be used, nah, that'll never happen. They gotta control the people with something right, can't have us running around with extra money in our pockets, happy, and independent.

Paul Kruger   June 21st, 2010 12:32 pm ET

I bet BP is wishing they had spent the extra bucks for a full range of preventative devices...! It is too late to close this door but what about all the other oil rigs in the gulf? I believe now is the time to require they all shut down to install the latest blow out prevention devices industry has to offer...and to update them when ever something better comes along.

Then DOCUMENT by eye witness that these were done and tested before being allowed to pump more oil.

Paul Kruger   June 21st, 2010 12:43 pm ET

Ok...let's not bash Obama for this disaster. It was an industrial accident waiting to happen due to lack of Federal Oversight going way back to when we had not one but two Oil Kings sitting in control of MMS. Bush and Cheney are both oil men and looked the other way to support their brethren in the Gulf Oil Fields. "Profit before Safety" should be their mottos.

Yes, Obama should have or tried to fix MMS sooner but let's be realistic about the totality of the mess he inherited from Bush & Cheney. Economic collapse, two wars, largest deficit in history, unemployment etc... Priorities had to be assigned and at the time there was no eminent disaster on the oil front so it makes sense to spend your energy on those disasters that are taking up the public's mind.

This is a VERY complex nation to run and I believe that given the mess he started with he has done better than most. First to get a health care bill passed. ( not the best but a starting point ) Will probably be the first to reform Wall Street. As he said to locals on a recent trip to the gulf, "I can't drive down there myself and plug the leak" pretty much sums up the issue. Government, aside from poor regulation by MMS did not create this disaster, BP and greed did that. Government is not in a position technically to fix it. Unfortunately BP has the engineers best equipped to do that.

Cleanup? For starters until the oil stops flowing, who really knows what to do there either?

It makes me sick to see anyone try to blame the Obama administration for this mess. If you want to start to assign blame at the bottom, look in the mirror. That person looking back wants cheap energy. This is part of the deal you made with the devil to get it and now it is biting you in the @rse !

Brian Soderstrum   June 21st, 2010 8:42 pm ET

Allright I need to toss in my 2c..Paul first I have to pretty much agree with your observations, however I'm not sure about B.P having the "best" engineers for this..IMO they want to keep this "in house" as much as possible and don't seem overly responsive to outside help...I don't know if this is corp. arrogance or a fear that more incriminating problems might be discovered?. As for "blaming" the Obama admin. for this mess your fundamentally right, this started in the 70's when OPEC figured out they had the US by the short hairs and created shortages resulting in (yes I was there) gas lines, odd/even days, skyrocketing prices and general end of the world as we know it worry!, knee jerk gov. reaction as usual like reduce nat. speed limits..telling US automakers to increase mpg. energy blah..blah..and what happened when this whole panic ebbed, prices
stabilized and gas lines disappeared??..well not much!!..other than 10 years of bad cars and terms like 5 star energy compliant. Now about where to assign the an abstract way Paul your probably right however I don't believe "we" made a deal with the "devil" I do believe our "LEADERS" were the ones that signed us up for that with foreign oil dependance, plans were made ,deals brokered etc..and I'm pretty sure that they never asked for my opinion! my point is ..yes.. we want cheap energy, but speaking for myself here I was raised to trust in our system and it's ability to manage these I know better .And if I want to blame an admin. for this mess I'm going to point right at the Cheny/Bush gang for their complete lack of concern over what was best for the this country and it's citizens over what was best for their corp. partners. Yes it is a VERY complex nation to run..maybe to complex for it's current form, I don't know but it seems that as long as our govmt. is influenced by big money/spcl. interests etc. we will continue down this very dangerous road!..

the US automakers to increase mpg

davidtroth   June 21st, 2010 9:10 pm ET

We the People of the United States of America now own this disaster. There will be minimal help from Washington and BP. We are most definitely on our own. Perhaps the smartest thing we can do is not look for answers from Washington. This is a nation of inventors and business people. We are smart enough to figure this mess out.

Carol Forsloff   June 27th, 2010 11:34 pm ET

What hasn't been explained to the public, and what is critical to understand, is the fact the oil spill has been declared a National Incident. A National Incident falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security, and there are specific definitions that go with the provisions for its administration, that in a sense can involve a total control exercised over all the areas involved in the BP oil crisis. It is specific on the Department of Homeland Security website.

I am the editor of a newspaper called Green Heritage News and live both in Louisiana and Oregon. I have been the editor of a local paper as well in Louisiana. I received a telephone call within hours after the rig explosion asking me to do a story about it for a major online Canadian site called The Vancouverite. I did and as the oil spill grew, the need for my own paper to cover it more fully became important. I have to date written more than 100 stories about the oil spill and did an extensive journey through the Gulf, interviewing many people along the way. I am low enough on Google hardly be seen except by those who know me, but I have been working on this since the beginning. Today I wrote an article relevant to the amount of oil described here, but it is a warning that needs attention. I ask you consider it please, as if you look through my content in general and the oil spill stories specifically, you will notice no hysteria. Here is the link, as the value of warning about the worst case scenario for the people is

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