What if BP Never Stopped the Oil in the Gulf of Mexico?
Engineers Say Deepwater Horizon Well Could Leak for Years if Not Stopped
By NED POTTER
BP said today that its latest try to control the oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico may be working. It has lowered a large cap over the blown-out well, 5,000 feet below the surface of the Gulf, in hopes of siphoning off the escaping oil.
“I am actually pretty confident this is going to work,” BP COO Doug Suttles said on “Good Morning America.” “It probably won’t capture all of the flow but it should capture the vast majority.”
But this is the seventh attempt to stop the well since the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded and burned on April 20, six weeks ago, and all the others have ended in disappointment.
Which raised a question: What if nothing worked at all? What if the oil just kept coming out of the ground until it stopped naturally? How long would it take? What would be the consequences?
The quick answer is that they would be severe — though nobody is quite sure how much oil might escape because nobody, even at BP, is sure how much is down there.
“It’s huge. It’s a big oil field,” said Roger Anderson, an oil geophysicist at the Earth Institute of Columbia University. “If 20,000 barrels a day are escaping, it could stay there for years, then drop off. It could flow at a small rate for a very, very long time.”