400 million gallons = 40 Exxon Valdez

Exxon Valdez spilled an estimated minimum 10.8 million US gallons (40.9 million litres, or 250,000 barrels) of crude oil.

Why BP Won't Measure the Oil Spill

Independent scientists analyzing the slick set the estimate at 25,000 barrels a day, and once BP released the underwater video, they calculated flow rates as high as 80,000 barrels a day.

From a comment in that thread :

at 80k barrels a day, this very well could become the most massive spill in history - EASILY. That's 3,360,000 gallons a day for 90-120 days (assuming the other wells they're drilling do what they think they will - which is another assumption they're making). That's 403,200,000 gallons, dwarfing the Persian gulf war spills in the early 1990s.

A couple of things with this estimate approaching almost half a Billion gallons of oil.

First the higher estimate has been used of 80K barrels per day, and also the maximum estimate of time. There is some validity in both these numbers for the following reasons :

If we go across to Skytruth, they have an excellent run down on flow rate estimates.

2) BP claims the siphon they've inserted into the end of the damaged riser pipe is diverting 84, 000 gallons (2,000 barrels) of oil per day from the main leak to a tanker at the surface. That is good news indeed. But it's worth remembering that for nearly a week BP stated the total spill rate was only 1,000 barrels per day.

3) Scientists analyzing video of that main leak, apparently shot on May 11 and released by BP on May 12, have estimated the flow rate from that leak to be anywhere from 20,000 to 100,000 barrels per day.

"And it doesn't even include the additional 15-20% coming from the secondary leak."

Secondly the estimate to complete the intersect well is at around 90 days.

BP statement 4 May 2010
drilling is estimated to take some three months

However actually intersecting the pipe when you consider you have a drill at 3.4 Miles (5,000 feet sea level PLUS 13,000 feet rock) to hit a 21 inch bore, can be difficult.

Remembering that an almost identical out of control gusher accident last August took 5 fails before the well was able to be found and intersected.
BP's Gulf Gusher, 'I've seen this movie before', 8 months ago
6 October 2009
First attempt to plug oil leak fails

14 October 2009
Second attempt to plug oil leak fails

17 October 2009
Third attempt to plug leaking West Atlas oil well fails

23 October 2009
Oil leak 'worse than feared'

24 October 2009
Fourth attempt to plug oil leak planned for Sunday
And that was in water only 254 feet deep. Not 5,000 feet deep.

BP is resistant to revealing data on the flow of these leaks

Saturday, May 15th
BP has resisted entreaties from scientists that they be allowed to use sophisticated instruments at the ocean floor that would give a far more accurate picture of how much oil is really gushing from the well.

“The answer is no to that,” a BP spokesman, Tom Mueller, said on Saturday. “We’re not going to take any extra efforts now to calculate flow there at this point. It’s not relevant to the response effort, and it might even detract from the response effort.”

Below is a repost from a diary I wrote a few days ago with a timeline of developments :
Update with Timeline from another source :

  • 4/22 - Deepwater Horizon rig sinks; Coast Guard estimates "up to" 8,000 barrels per day (bpd) is leaking - source
  • 4/23 - Coast Guard reports no leaking at all from the damaged well - source
  • 4/24 - Coast Guard reports well is leaking, estimates 1,000 bpd - source
  • 4/25 - BP repeats 1,000 bpd estimate - source
  • 4/27 - 1,000 bpd still the official Coast Guard and BP estimate - source
  • 4/27 - SkyTruth and Dr. Ian MacDonald publish first estimate that spill rate is 20,000 bpd - source
  • 4/28 - NOAA weighs in and raises the official estimate to 5,000 bpd based on aerial surveys "and other factors"; BP disputes this higher estimate - source
  • 4/29 - Coast Guard and NOAA repeat their estimate of 5,000 bpd - source
  • 4/29 - BP's Chief Operating Officer admits new estimate of 5,000 bpd may be correct; "He said there was no way to measure the flow at the seabed and estimates have to come from how much oil makes it to the surface" - source
  • 5/1 - SkyTruth and Dr. Ian MacDonald publish revised estimate of at least 26,500 bpd - source
  • 5/1 - Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen "acknowledged there was no way really to know the extent of the leak" - source - and stated that "Any exact estimate is probably impossible at this time" - source
  • 5/1 - Coast Guard and NOAA cease estimating the rate of the spill.
  • This is the animation which has been produced to show how the riser insertion pipe would affect one of the leaks on the ocean floor.

    Source CNN
    BP says tube successfully inserted back into Gulf leak

    This is a video of the reality.

    Source Huffington Post, Kevin Grandia

    Now compare it to the same pipe before they inserted the bendy straw.

    Someone has finally released a video of the BOP which is in the video below.

    Photobucket

    To give you some idea of what scale we are looking at compare a still shot of the top of the BOP, and a JPG of a BOP in a field. Notice the arrow points to the top part which I am hazarding a guess are going to be close to the same size. However, without BP doing the same it will be difficult to confirm, but it gives some level of perspective to the size of the gusher at the BOP which Skytruth state has been estimated at 15-20% of the total leak.
    PhotobucketPhotobucket

    Also it is worth looking at the 5 storey containment box video again and considering how quickly it filled with oil and gas. The building on the right is 4 storeys tall.
    PhotobucketPhotobucket

    Finally I need to draw your attention to this article where Tony Hayward was interviewed, because it gets to the heart of a comment I wrote a few days ago which didn't explain myself well enough. In effect, what has occurred with so many who have risen to the top in the industry, the oversight from the regulators, the politicians who are supposed to oversee the regulators and the media who are supposed to keep the politicians honest by reporting FACTUAL information, is that we have built a world where accountability for things which really do harm society never occurs. Simply because of a culture, values system which encourages behavior and promotes this type of thinking. It is something, in my opinion, we inherit to a large degree from those we work for. And I hope we will take a look in the mirror and figure out whether it is a culture we can afford to let continue.

    After The Spill: Big Oil Plots Its Comeback (Forbes)
    BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward says he's sleeping well these days.

    He insists the company has been "extraordinarily successful" in its response to the spill, which so far has dumped more than 100,000 barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico since Apr. 20, threatening tourism and fishing from Florida to Texas.

    "Deepwater drilling will be transformed by this event," he says. "If we can win the hearts and minds of the communities that are impacted, then we have the potential to enhance our reputation rather than have it damaged."

    But push Hayward--or officials at other oil companies--for specifics and they say it's too soon to tell, since they still don't know what went wrong with the Deepwater Horizon. They also fear going public with plans to change standard operating procedure because that might imply bad practices in the past--catnip to regulators and lawyers.

    With 40 new deepwater wells being drilled in the Gulf at $100 million a pop, the world "needs to come to the realization that this is an isolated incident,"

    "a longer-term limit on deepwater wells would be ridiculous,"

    After all that don't Americans deserve to know the answer and have it verified by independent scientists and engineers, just how much oil flow is there into the Gulf of Mexico?

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    Here in Hawaii over 75% or our electricity comes from fossil fuels.  We pay a surcharge on our power bill based on the price of a barrel of oil.  We are unique, as the rest of the US is not so heavily dependent on petroleum for power generation.

    We need viable alternatives now.