Video by Project Gulf Impact
Gavin Garrison, Matt Smith, and Heather Rally
Dr. Ira Leifer, a marine scientist from the University of California at Santa Barbara, has been researching the geochemical nature of oil seeps and spills for over a many years. After over a decade of experience studying hydrocarbon visualization, modeling, and geochemistry in the Santa Barbara channel, Dr. Leifer developed a recognizable expertise in the area of oil spills. Soon after the BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion in late April 2010, Dr. Leifer was sought out by the government and appointed to the National Incident Command’s Flow Rate Technical Group. This group of highly specialized scientists was tasked with the responsibility of determining how much oil was leaking from the Macondo 252 wellhead. In this exclusive interview with Project Gulf Impact, Dr. Leifer expresses his frustration when asked to make scientifically sound conclusions based upon data that has been intentionally obscured and manipulated. Not only was he denied the proper quality of data after repeated requests, he also witnessed a blatant obscuring, by the media, of the results that ultimately were released by the flow rate group. BP argues that scientists have miscalculated the flow rate from the Macondo well, and that the actual spill size could be half the official estimate.
From Daily Hurricane
“If BP gets away with reducing the flow estimate to half of the current estimate, it will be a masterful manipulation of government regulators and inexperienced administration officials. It appears that with the media now completely ignoring this tragedy, BP will successfully lowball the flow to minimize its liability. To give you an idea of the size of this issue, let’s look at a few numbers:
First, the official government estimate for flow into the Gulf is 4.9 million barrels, or about 60,000 barrels per day (this estimate is likely way low due to flow characteristics of these big deepwater wells, but that fact just complicates an already complicated subject, so I’ll ignore it for now). Second, at the peak of it’s “top hat” containment, BP was capturing about 25,000 barrels of oil per day, even as oil roared into the water around the cap.
So. If BP is now claiming that the flow rate was half the estimated 60,000 barrels per day, that means that when they were capturing 25,000 barrels per day, they were capturing close to all of the flow. I don’t know about you, but all that oil roaring into the water around the cap looks like a lot more than nothing. Additionally, recall that on July 6, Doug Suttles actually used 53,000 barrels per day as his estimate of flow for the calculation of the amount of dispersant BP wanted to apply at the sea floor. To now assert that the flow rate was half of the government estimate, and far below their own estimate is disingenuous on the face.”
Casey Chan: “Sometimes we all have to to own up to our mistakes and serve the time. But not the classy folks at BP! According to the NY Times, BP will challenge estimates of the oil spilled in order to reduce their fine.
As it stands now, government estimates put the amount of oil spilled at 4.9 million barrels which means that BP could face fines of up to $21 billion, or $4,300 per barrel, “if courts determine that it acted with gross negligence before the accident.” BP is suggesting that that estimate is 20 to 50 percent too high, though they’ve failed to offer their own estimate.
Of course BP would challenge the estimates though: it’s a shit ton of money that they have to pay up. And if we learned anything from the oil spill, it was that BP is all big business corporation: a couple million barrels less is a few billion dollars saved for them. But the problem is BP has notoriously underestimated the flow rate of their oil spill. Their early estimates had the leak at 1,000 to 5,000 barrels a day, but more detailed analysis found that it probably reached as high as 60,000 barrels a day. Quite a bit of difference.
Hopefully, the government won’t bend to BP’s will. [NY Times]“