According to the New York Times, in a recent briefing on the BP oil spill, BP senior vice president Kent Wells said, “there’s just no way to measure it.”
No way, Kent? Let’s see, in order to make an accurate estimation of the spill, you’d need to know exactly how big the hole is, and how quickly the oil is coming out of it. If only we could get that information.
Oh, turns out we can. From this video, recorded by BP earlier this week. They’ve had access to video like this for weeks but have been refusing requests to share it. And for good reason - independent analysts say that, based on the video, oil is spilling at anywhere from four to twenty times faster than the official estimate of 5000 barrels (210000 gallons) a day.
Of course there are all kind of complicating factors - some of the spill is methane, it assumes a constant spill rate, and the fact that there is currently a second leak in addition to this one. So in a way, BP is right, there is no way to measure it exactly. But we can make some pretty accurate guesses, and their conservative one ain’t it.