An internal BP document released by the chairman of the Energy and Environment Subcommittee in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Ed Markey, discloses what the vast majority already know - that a "worst case" gusher scenario could be as high as 100,000 barrels of oil per day. According to an exhibit discussing flow rate probabilities, BP says that "If BOP and wellhead are removed and if we have incorrectly modeled the restrictions – the rate could be as high as ~ 100,000 barrels per day up the casing or 55,000 barrels per day up the annulus (low probability worst cases)." This is getting very close to the estimate presented previously by Matt Simmons that the flow rate could be as high as 120,000 bpd. As Markey notes, "This number is in sharp contrast to BP’s initial claim that the leak was just 1,000 barrels a day. At the time this document was made available to Congress, BP claimed the leak was 5,000 barrels a day, and told Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee that the worst case scenario was be 60,000 barrels a day. This document tells a different story." It is stunning to discover that a major multi-national corporation could be so daring as to lie to shareholders, Congress and taxpayers. The next question that Congress may want to look into is why the Obama administration swallowed BP's lies hook line and collapsing GoM floor bed, without using an independent 3rd party verification, and what the liability to the firm would be if the official flow rate is revised to be twice higher than the current worse case scenario. We are confident that as more of the structural integrity of the seabed collapses, that even Simmons' estimate will prove to be conservative.
More from Ed Markey:
“Considering what is now known about BP’s problems with this well prior to the Deepwater Horizon explosion, including cementing issues, leaks in the blowout preventer and gas kicks, BP should have been more honest about the dangerous condition of the well bore,” said Markey, the chairman of the Energy and Environment Subcommittee in the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
On Thursday, Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen was asked in his daily briefing about the condition of the well bore. He said there, “So what I would tell you is we don’t know exactly the condition of the well bore. And that’s one of the unknowns that we’re managing around in terms of risks. And that’s the reason we didn’t go, didn’t go to excessive pressures on the top kill and decided that we’d deal with containment and then go for the final relief well.”
According to Admiral Allen: "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. And we don’t know, we don’t know if the well bore has been compromised or not."
What the BP document suggests that if the well bore is compromised or becomes compromised, we now know we could be looking at a flow rate 100 times BP's initial estimate. 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.
“When the oil spill started, BP said it was only 1,000 barrels a day. Now we know it could end up being 100 times larger than that in a worst-case scenario,” said Markey. “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. Now the families living and working in the Gulf are suffering from their incompetence.”
“BP needs to tell us what it will do if the well bore is compromised and 100,000 barrels per day of oil spills into the ocean. At this point, we need real contingency planning, not a plan with dead scientists and walruses,” said Markey.
Smoking gun BP exhibits: