August 11, 2010: MARKEY: BP Must Own Up to Flow Rate Number, Compensate the Gulf

In Letter to BP, Congressman ask Oil Company to Accept 4.9 million barrel flow rate number produced by U.S. Scientific Team

Washington DC (August 11, 2010) – In response to silence from BP following the release of an official flow rate estimate produced by the U.S. Scientific Team’s Flow Rate Technical Group (FRTG), Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), who chairs the House Energy and Environment Subcommittee and the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, is calling on the oil company to accept the 4.9 million barrel of oil number so that damage claims can move forward.

In a letter to BP’s President and CEO Lamar McKay, Rep. Markey cited BP’s participation in the Unified Command process that produced the current estimate of 53,000 barrels of oil per day leaking from BP’s well immediately preceding its closure using the capping stack. The FRTG also indicated that, at the beginning of the spill, 62,000 barrels per day were leaking from the well.   Because the well flowed for 87 days, 4.9 million barrels flowed into the gulf. The FRTG estimate has a plus or minus 10 percent uncertainty range.
BP acceptance of a flow rate number is fundamental to its claim that it “is doing everything it can to make this right” for the families and businesses of the Gulf,” said Markey. “Oil may have stopped flowing from the well, but the suffering in the region continues. Low-balling or litigating the flow rate estimate would be just one more insult to the people of the Gulf.”     

To read a copy of the letter to BP from Rep Markey, please click HERE .

Under current law, BP will be assessed fines for each barrel of oil spilled.  These fines will range from a minimum of $1100 per barrel to up to $4300 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 1000-5000 barrels per day and much more closely resembles the so called “worst case” scenario cited by BP officials of 60,000 barrels per day.

If BP is found guilty of gross negligence, the fines for the oil spill will increase. For instance, for every 10,000 barrels of oil spilled per day at $4,300 per barrel, over the more than 80 days that oil spilled into the ocean, the fine would be increased by $3.5 billion.  The total size of the spill will also affect the amount of damages BP would have to pay for the spill’s effect on natural resources in the Gulf of Mexico.

BP bears the black eye of the worst environmental disaster in our nation’s history,” said Markey. “It’s high time BP own up to the true size of this oil spill once and for all.