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FEATURE

Flow rate from BP oil spill many times higher than previously estimated





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Update 6/15/10:  The estimate has been raised to 35,000-60,000 barrels (1.5 million to 2.5 million gallons) a day. 

The federal government has doubled the official estimate of the oil spewing from BP's damaged well head on the Gulf floor to 20,000 to 40,000 barrels per day.  That is many times the estimate a few weeks ago and exponentially more than the initial estimate calculated by the pictures of the disaster provided via government satellite.

A government panel on Thursday essentially doubled its estimate of how much oil has been spewing from the out-of-control BP well, with the new calculation suggesting that an amount equivalent to the Exxon Valdez disaster could be flowing into the Gulf of Mexico every 8 to 10 days.

A barrel is 42 gallons, so 30,000 barrels would equate to nearly 1.3 million gallons a day. The Exxon Valdez disaster in 1989 is estimated to have spilled 10.8 million gallons of oil into Prince William Sound in Alaska.

Ira Leifer, a researcher at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a member of the flow-rate group, said the new figures confirmed a suspicion he had developed, based on looking at satellite data, that the rate of flow for the well was increasing even before BP cut the riser pipe.

"The situation is growing worse," Dr. Leifer said.
This dramatic change in estimate came about after it was discovered that BP had high resolution video of the Gulf floor they had chosen neither to release or to inform Congress or the Flow Rate Group of its existence.  It is expected, as the newly revealed high resolution video is studied by the Flow Rate Group scientist who've been brought together by the USGS, the estimates will continue to rise.  Continued...


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