Since both the Obama administration and BP have an obvious interest in under-estimating the amount of oil which Deepwater Horizon has already dumped into the Gulf of Mexico, it isn’t surprising that everything these partners in crime produce for public consumption is bullshit.
On Thursday, U.S. Geological Survey director Marcia McNutt announced that the Flow Rate Technical Group — a panel of scientists from government and academia — had determined that the overall best initial estimate for the rate of flow from the leak was between 12,000 and 19,000 barrels of oil per day.
But it was impossible for members of the team that analyzed the oil plume video to estimate the upper boundary of the oil spilled, according to the Ira Leifer, a researcher at the Marine Science Institute at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Steven Wereley, a researcher at Purdue University.
Wereley and Leifer were both members of that team, and Leifer participated in the satellite image analysis as well. Both researchers say that the seven minutes of video that BP provided to the plume team was not sufficient to estimate the upper boundary of the amount of oil — only to give a lower-end estimate.
"What everyone on the panel agreed was that due to the low-quality data BP provided to us, it would be irresponsible and unscientific to estimate an upper bound to the emission," said Leifer. "So what we presented in the [plume team] report is a range of expert opinions on what the lower bound is."
Wereley said he was surprised to see the estimate of 12,000 to 19,000 barrels and was "disappointed" with the way that the press release was phrased.
"I was really confused when I read the press release yesterday," he said. "I had to read it several times."
So the figures which are quoted all over the media with the phony appearance of upper and lower bounds, "between 12,000 and 19,000 barrels of oil per day," really only apply to the lower bound, and the best independent estimate of the upper bound remains the figure which Professor Steve Werely provided for NPR on May 20:
100,000 barrels per day, and at 42 gallons per barrel, that’s….
4,000,000 gallons per day.
If we split the difference between that upper bound and the lower bound from the USGS, we arrive at a middle-of-the-road estimate…
60,000 barrels per day, and that’s…
2,400,000 gallons per day.
And that produces a middle-of-the-road estimate that the total amount of oil which Deepwater Horizon has already dumped into the Gulf of Mexico in 42 days is about…
100,000,000 gallons already!
That’s almost ten times as much as the Exxon Valdez, but what the heck!