Scientists offer varied estimates, all high, on size of BP oil leak
By Joel Achenbach and Juliet Eilperin
Friday, June 11, 2010
Pick a number: 12,600 barrels . . . 20,000 . . . 21,500 . . . 25,000 . . . 30,000 . . . 40,000 . . . 50,000. Scientists put every one of those numbers in play Thursday as they struggled to come up with a solid estimate of how much oil is gushing each day from the black geyser at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.
The one scientific certainty: It’s a lot — and more than some of the same scientists thought just a couple of weeks ago. It’s so much that the crews trying to siphon it to the surface are going to need a bigger boat.
Early in the crisis, BP and the federal government repeatedly said that the Deepwater Horizon well was spewing about 5,000 barrels (210,000 gallons) a day into the gulf. But the new estimates, released Thursday by government-appointed scientists, show that the well most likely produces 5,000 barrels before breakfast.