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Senator Markey's investigation into the Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon oil spill revealed that at the time that BP was providing the public with low-range estimates of the daily flow rate, its internal documents showed that BP knew all along that the likely flow rate of oil was much higher.

Based on these investigations it appears that had a more accurate flow rate been known earlier, the response to the spill may well have been different; more boom and skimmers might have been more quickly mobilized, the use of dispersants might have been adjusted, and successful containment and capping strategies could have been developed and deployed more quickly. 

  • • April 24: BP initially asserted that the flow rate from the Macondo well was 1,000 bpd. 
  • • April 27: BP internal document showed an estimated flow rate in the range of 1,063-14,266 bpd
  • • April 28: Coast Guard and NOAA publically estimate the flow rate to be at least 5000 bpd, with which BP initially disagreed.
  • • May 4: BP, in a briefing to the House Energy and Environment Subcommittee Members, say that the worst-case flow rate could be 60,000 bpd.
  • • May 20: Rep. Markey posts live video of the leaking well from the “spillcam” online so that the American people can for the first time see the amount of oil spilling into the Gulf and response efforts.
  • • May 24: BP provided internal documents to Markey confirming the 60,000 bpd estimate with the most likely worst-case flow rate being 40,000 bpd.
  • • May 27: The Federal Flow Rate Technical Group released its first preliminary estimate of flow rate with a low-end of 12,000-19,000 bpd
  • • June 10: The Federal Flow Rate Technical Group revised its flow rate estimate upwards to 20,000 - 40,000 bpd.
  • • June 15: The Federal Flow Rate Technical Group and DOE scientists revise the flow rate estimate upwards to 35,000 - 60,000 bpd.
  • • July 6: BP internal dispersant documents indicate that dispersant application decisions were made using a flow rate assumption of 53,000 bpd.
  • • August 2: The Federal Flow Rate Technical Group and DOE scientists revise their flow rate estimate upwards to 53,000 bpd (with 10% error) for mid-July and 62,000 bpd at the beginning of the spill.
  • • March 3, 2012: BP announces a settlement to resolve claims with individuals and businesses who were harmed by the spill that could ultimately reach close to $10 billion.  
  • • November 15, 2012: BP agrees to a $4.5 settlement, including paying a record $4 billion in criminal fines, and pleads guilty to 14 counts related to the spill, including felony obstruction of Congress for making false and misleading statements to Rep. Markey regarding the true size of the spill. 

November 28, 2012: the EPA suspends BP from receiving new federal contracts, including receiving new offshore drilling leases. Rep. Markey had first raised the question of whether BP should be suspended or debarred from future offshore lease sales at a Natural Resources Committee hearing in October, 2011.