Kate Sheppard reports on an independent estimate of the BP oil disaster which again raises the amount of oil spilled into the Gulf:

An independent estimate concluded this week that the BP spill dumped 4.4 million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The new study, published this week in Science, is the first peer-reviewed analysis of the total amount spilled over the nearly three months of the disaster. The scientists used high-resolution video of the leaking well to estimate the rate of the spill.

The estimate is slightly higher than the estimate from the government’s flow rate team, which concluded in August that 4.1 million barrels were spilled into the Gulf and another 800,0000 barrels was removed from the water.

The difference of 300,000 barrels equals the total amount of oil spilled in the Exxon Valdez disaster.

And this has a monetary cost to BP as well. Many penalties under the Clean Air Act base their amounts on a per-barrel rate. As much as $4,300 a barrel could be owed to the government by BP, especially if they were found liable of gross negligence in the disaster, so this increase could mean up to $1.29 billion to BP’s bottom line.

The estimate published in Science has a plus/minus of 20%. At the initial time of the spill, BP estimated that just 1,000 barrels a day flowed into the Gulf. This estimate would reflect at least 50 times that.