Scientists offer varied estimates, all high, on size of BP oil leak

Friday, June 11, 2010
By Paul Martin

By Joel Achenbach and Juliet Eilperin
WashingtonPost.com
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.

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