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Professor of Mechanical Engineering Estimates that 4 Million Gallons of Oil are Leaking Every Day

Washington’s Blog [1]
May 20, 2010

As I wrote [2] on May 2nd:

The Gulf oil spill is much worse than originally believed.

As the Christian Science Monitor writes [3]:

It’s now likely that the actual amount of the oil spill dwarfs the Coast Guard’s figure of 5,000 barrels, or 210,000 gallons, a day.

Independent scientists estimate that the renegade wellhead at the bottom of the Gulf could be spewing up to 25,000 barrels a day. If chokeholds on the riser pipe break down further, up to 50,000 barrels a day could be released, according to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration memo obtained by the Mobile, Ala., Press-Register.

CNN quotes the lead government official responding to the spill – the commandant of the Coast Guard, Admiral Thad Allen – as stating [4]:

If we lost a total well head, it could be 100,000 barrels or more a day.

Indeed, an environmental document filed by the company running the oil drilling rig – BP – estimates [5] the maximum as 162,000 barrels a day:

In an exploration plan and environmental impact analysis filed with the federal government in February 2009, BP said it had the capability to handle a “worst-case scenario” at the Deepwater Horizon site, which the document described as a leak of 162,000 barrels per day from an uncontrolled blowout — 6.8 million gallons each day.

Today, a Purdue University mechanical engineering professor – Steven Wereley – testified [6] to the House Committee on Commerce and Energy that 95,000 barrels a day are currently leaking into the Gulf. That’s 3,990,000 gallons [7] – just shy of 4 million gallons – per day.