Thursday, April 29, 2010

New, Much Larger Oil Leak

In yet another parallel to the Montara deep well oil spill in Australia last year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced overnight that BP's Deepwater Horizon well is leaking five times as much oil as the oil corporation previously admitted.

From today's New Orleans Times-Picayune:
As a sheen of oil moved closer to the Louisiana coast Wednesday, officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration revised their estimates of the amount of oil that has been leaking from the oil well from 1,000 barrels a day to up to 5,000 barrels a day, or about 210,000 gallons.

BP officials also discovered a new leak in the twisted pipelines that were severed when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig sank into the Gulf of Mexico last week. But Doug Suttles, chief operating officer with BP Exploration and Production, said this does not change the overall amount of oil believed to be coming from the well.
* * *
As winds shifted to the southeast Wednesday, forecasts showed for the first time that the outer bands of the oil slick spilling from a deep well in the Gulf of Mexico will reach the southern fringes of the Louisiana coast by late Friday.

Forecasts called for continued winds from the southeast through the weekend and also unusually high tides, meaning oil could continue to move into the fragile Mississippi River delta region for days.

According to New York Times reporters Campbell Robertson and Leslie Kaufman, when Suttles insists that BP considers there is no discrepancy in the volume of leaking oil, it's because, "The new, far larger estimate of the leakage rate... was within a range of estimates given the inexact science of determining the rate of a leak so far below the ocean’s surface."

In other words, to BP oil officials 5,000 barrels of leaking crude per day is the same as 1,000 barrels a day. Newer New Math? Or, the usual corporate dissembling? Confusion -- and quite probably misinformation-- rages among the various news reports coming out of the Gulf of Mexico.

As happened in Australia, as well, separating fact from corporate fiction is a tough task for journalists when the site of the disaster remains at sea. As has happened before, however, the true magnitude of the leak will only begin to become apparent when the oil leak begins to come ashore.

WWL-TV explains with visuals:

edited and updated 4-29 am

No comments: