So, how much oil is flowing from DWH?

June 9, 2010

A New York Times story from Monday tried to answer the question –  the “official” estimates have clearly been low balled, first at 5000 bpd to the current story of 12000 to 19000 bpd.  These estimates are all bullshit, and represent figures within lowest boundary estimated by the Flow Rate Technical Group (FRTG), which put the low boundary at 12000 to 25000 bpd.  Reports are consistently leaving out the fact that this is the low boundary estimate, and that there is a very good chance that the real flow rate is quite a bit higher.  It is telling that the high boundary estimate has not been discussed.  However, in an article in Rolling Stone, a consultant for the FRTG puts that number at 100000 bpd:

“The upper bound from the plume group, if it had come out, is very high,” says Timothy Crone, a marine geophysicist at Columbia University who has consulted with the government’s team. “That’s why they had resistance internally. We’re talking 100,000 barrels a day.”

Examining other press reports, we can begin to get closer to the actual numbers.  The Houston Chronicle reports that BP will bring a ship online soon with the capacity to burn 5000 to 10000 bpd.   The burning option is being taken because the current recovery ship is nearing its capacity of 18000 bpd.  Admiral Allen, coordinating the Coast Guard operations, says that the daily capacity for processing oil will be up to 28000 by next week.  It is not clear if that is the current 18K plus the 10K that can be burned, or if it will include another processing ship that will bring the total captured oil to 28K, with the oil to be burned on top of that.

In either case, it appears that the flow rate can now be pegged at a low level of 28K bpd, if BP operations are capturing all the oil, which they likely are not.


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