Thursday, May 20, 2010

Oil Spill: Possibly 95,000 Barrels Per Day

According to congressional testimony, the Deepwater Horizon spill may be 19 times larger than official estimates:

Steve Wereley, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., earlier this month made simple calculations from a single video BP released on May 12 and calculated a flow of 70,000 barrels a day, NPR reported last week.

On Wednesday, Wereley told a House of Representatives Energy and Commerce subcommittee that his calculations of two leaks that are on videos BP released on Tuesday showed 70,000 barrels from one leak and 25,000 from the other.

He said the margin of error was about 20 percent, making the spill between 76,000 and 104,000 barrels a day. However, Wereley said he'd need to see videos that showed the flow over a longer period to get a better calculation of the mix of oil and gas from the wellhead.
The Coast Guard plans to put a sensor near the source of the leak to get a better sense of how much is leaking.

The tar balls found in Florida earlier this week did not come from the Deepwater Horizon spill.
Lab results released Wednesday, after the U.S. Coast Guard used a Falcon jet to whisk the samples from Miami to a lab in Groton, Conn., revealed the 50 or so three- to eight-inch tar balls did not come from the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

The Coast Guard lab's findings were conclusive, a statement said, even as the source of the spill that spawned the tar balls was still not known.
Meanwhile, the Minerals Management Service will be split into three parts to avoid having the regulatory and revenue-collecting functions housed in the same agency.
The reorganization, which has a 30-day timetable, will create the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to develop energy resources, including offshore renewable resources, and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, which will police offshore operations and protect the environment.

Most importantly, Salazar said, the existing division of the agency that oversees $13 billion in annual revenue collection will evolve into the Office of Natural Resources Revenue, move to the Interior Department's budget and management division, and be entirely separate from Interior's land and minerals division.

About 700 of the agency's 1,700 employees will move to the revenue collection division. Another 300 will be devoted to environmental safety and enforcement, and the remaining 700 will work on offshore energy leasing plans.
Hopefully this move will lead to more effective health and environmental regulation of drilling operations.