10 June 2010 22:33 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (ICIS news)--The oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico from the BP-operated Deepwater Horizon offshore rig could be gushing 40,000 bbl/day of oil, US officials said on Thursday.
The federal Flow Rate Technical Group had four subgroups examining the leak, and one examining a video provided by BP for May estimated the flow at 20,000-40,000 bbl/day. Within that, the most likely range would be 25,000-30,000 bbl/day, said Marcia McNutt, chair of the group and director of the US Geological Survey (USGS).
Previously, the group using video had estimated the flow at 12,000-25,000 bbl/day. That estimate was raised from an initial guess of 5,000 bbl/day.
The video analysed was from May, before BP cut the well’s riser pipe on 3 June to implement its containment cap system.
US officials had said that cutting the riser pipe could increase the flow further by 20%, while independent university researchers this week said it could have been a “several-fold increase”.
McNutt noted that some preliminary estimates after cutting the riser pipe were slightly higher than 40,000 bbl/day.
Meanwhile, another subgroup using remote sensing estimated the flow at 12,600-21,500 bbl/day.
McNutt said the analysis was ongoing and that the subgroups would combine estimates in the coming days to provide a tighter range.
“Developing accurate and scientifically grounded oil flow rate information is vital, both in regards to the continued response and recovery, as well as the important role this information may play in the final investigation of the failure of the blowout preventer and the resulting spill,” US Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen said.
Oil began spewing from the bottom of the Gulf after a 20 April explosion sank the Deepwater Horizon rig.
BP on Wednesday was siphoning 15,800 bbl/day from the leak, and would increase its capacity to 28,000 bbl/day by next week, it said.
Company officials had said they hoped to capture “90-plus percent” of the flow in the containment cap system.
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