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The Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming addressed our nation's energy, economic and national security challenges during the 110th and 111th Congresses.

This is an archived version of the committee's website, where the public, students and the media can continue to access and learn from our work.

Markey: BP Refuses to Accept Flow Rate Number, Spill Size, Liability

Signals Litigation Ahead on Total Fines Assessed


Contact: Chairman Ed Markey, 202-225-4012

WASHINGTON (August 25, 2010) – BP has yet again refused to accept the most recent federal government estimate of the rate of oil that leaked from the company’s Macondo well, and therefore the total estimated size of the Gulf of Mexico spill. Responding to questions from Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) on whether the company would accept the numbers reached by a scientific team dedicated to determining the size of the spill, BP told Rep. Markey in a letter that the company is “continuing to evaluate available information.”

“As if we needed it, this is a clear signal that BP intends to fight the same numbers they claim to have helped create about the size of the spill,” said Rep. Markey, who chairs the Energy and Environment Subcommittee in the Energy and Commerce Committee.  “I continue to urge BP to accept these numbers in order to move on to the vital task of Gulf restoration, instead of endless litigation.”

The original letter sent by Rep. Markey to BP on August 11, 2010 can be found HERE.

BP’s August 24, 2010 response can be found HERE.

As Rep. Markey’s letter to BP noted, the most recent estimates from the Flow Rate Technical Group (FRTG) were that 53,000 barrels of oil per day spilled from BP’s well immediately preceding its closure using the capping stack. However, at the beginning of the spill, 62,000 barrels per day were leaking from the well.  During the 87 days that the well flowed, approximately 4.9 million barrels of oil was released.

The FRTG estimate has a plus or minus 10 percent uncertainty range. However, these are currently the best estimates of the spill. BP also has provided information, including video and other data, that led to the creation of these new estimates, and has not publicly indicated disagreement with these estimates. In the letter, BP says that it is “cooperating with the various federal agencies looking into this important matter.”

Under current law, BP will be assessed fines for each barrel of oil spilled. These fines will range from a minimum of $1,100 per barrel to up to $4,300 per barrel. The amount of oil spilled will also be used in assessing the extent of natural resource damages. The 53,000-62,000 barrel per day figure far exceeds BP’s initial estimates of 1,000-5,000 barrels per day and much more closely resembles the potential “worst case” scenario cited by BP officials to Congress of 60,000 barrels per day in early May.

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PLEASE NOTE: The House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming was created to explore American clean energy solutions that end our reliance on foreign oil and reduce carbon pollution.

The Select Committee was active during the 110th and 111th Congresses. This is an archived version of the website, to ensure that the public has ongoing access to the Select Committee record. This website, including external links, will not be updated after Jan. 3rd, 2010.

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