At the direction of the Federal government, BP is implementing multiple strategies to significantly expand the leak containment capabilities at the sea floor even beyond the upper level of the latest flow rate estimate. The Lower Marine Riser Package (LMRP) cap that is currently in place can capture up to 18,000 bbl/day. At the direction of the Federal government, BP is deploying a second containment option, called the Q4000, which could expand total leak containment capacity to 20,000-28,000 bbl/day. Overall, the leak containment strategy that BP was required to develop projects containment capacity expanding to 40,000-53,000 barrels per day by the end of June and 60,000-80,000 barrels per day by mid-July.
Energy Secretary Steven Chu said, "This estimate brings together several scientific methodologies and the latest information from the sea floor, and represents a significant step forward in our effort to put a number on the oil that is escaping from BP's well. As we continue to collect additional data and refine these estimates, it is important to realize that the numbers can change. In particular, the upper number is less certain -- which is exactly why we have been planning for the worst case scenario at every stage and why we are continuing to focus on responding to the upper end of the estimate, plus additional contingencies." Over the weekend, at the insistence of Secretary Chu and the science team, pressure meters were added to the top hat to assist with these estimates.
The scientists stressed the need for continued and refined pressure measurement, but emphasized that the "improved" estimates have a greater degree of confidence than estimates that were possible prior to the riser cut. They said the estimates are better because of more and different kinds of data that is available now and a single flow is easier to estimate versus prior to the riser cut, when oil was flowing both from the end of the riser and from several different holes in the riser kink.
The FRTG was assembled at the direction of National Incident Commander Admiral Thad Allen, and is led by United States Geological Survey Director Dr. Marcia McNutt. The FRTG, and a scientific team led by Energy Secretary Steven Chu, continue to analyze new data and use several scientific methodologies to develop updated estimates of how much oil is flowing from BP's leaking oil well in the Gulf of Mexico.
Its important to note that over a month ago, Purdue University mechanical engineering professor Steven Wereley, the researcher that testified before Representative Markey's hearing on May 19, that the BP leak was much larger than previously estimated. Wereley indicated that the flow rate was at least "an order of magnitude higher" than the 5,000 bbl/day being reported by BP and the Unified Command. Wereley, who is now one of the researchers on the FRTG, used an initial 30-second video clip of the oil gushing from the 21.5-inch pipe that was released by BP on May 12, Wereley deployed a technique called particle image velocimetry (PIV) to create freeze-frame shots of the video. From his calculation, Wereley determined that 56,000-84,000 barrels of oil, plus gas, had been leaking daily into the Gulf -- a flow that was nearly 10 times higher than other estimates at that time [See WIMS 5/29/10].
On June 15, 2010, the President signed into law S. 3473 - Amending the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 to authorize advances from Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The bill authorizes the Coast Guard to obtain multiple advances (up to $100 million each), with the total amount of all advances not to exceed the incident cap under current law ($1 billion), from the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund to underwrite Federal response activities with regard to the discharge of oil that began in connection with the explosion on, and sinking of, the mobile offshore oil unit Deepwater Horizon. The bill was introduced on June 9, by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and passed the Senate by unanimous consent and received a 410-0 vote in the House.
In other activities NOAA and Coast Guard seized shrimp taken from the closed fishing area in Gulf; Administration officials met with BP officials on the containment and recovery plans; established three Deputy Incident Commanders under Incident Commander Admiral Thad Allen, to lead oil impact mitigation and cleanup efforts in Alabama, Mississippi and Florida; the Administration continued its oversight over the BP claims process; and more (See link below).
Access a fact sheet on the $20 billion funding and other funds (click here). Access the complete Presidential address (click here). Access links to a video of the address (click here). Access a release on the updated flow rate estimate (click here). Access legislative details on S.3473 (click here). Access a White House summary of the last 24 hours of oil spill activities with extensive links to more information (click here). Access additional information updates and links to releases and briefings on the Administration's response from the Unified Command website (click here). Access the BP response website for links to visuals more information on the recovery work (click here).