The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

No, The Feds don’t want the public to know the extent of the gusher

Seriously, Chris, I know you know better.  The Feds are not making sure independent scientists and media can’t measure the oil gusher by mistake.  Obama wants to downplay how bad this disaster is. If he didn’t, he’d allow scientists to deploy equipment underwater, which he has not allowed.  As it turns out, the flow is probably closer to 95K barrels a day, not the 5K BP and the government “estimated”.  And yes, those scare quotes are there because I don’t think they mis-estimated, I think they’re just liars.

I wonder what sort of sociopath you have to be to run BP, or the US.

Plus ca change…


Heading to America’s Future Now Conference


Discretionary Budget Priorities


  1. Completed Gulf of Mexico deep water wells in the same area tend to max out at 40Kbpd of oil. Something weird is happening if the Macondo well is producing 70Kbpd+ despite being incomplete and heavily damaged. If Thunderhorse’s production output is any indication, 40-50Kbpd oil mixed with ~20Kbpd of water is a reasonable estimate for full flow.

  2. Ian Welsh

    Well, that would still be 8 to 10 times what BP and the Feds claimed.

  3. Disenfranchised

    “As we’ve noted, BP has turned down offers by scientists [18] to better measure the Gulf disaster, but finally released video footage of the spill last week. Based on that footage, scientists estimated that between 25,000 and 80,000 barrels a day [19] are spewing into the Gulf, according to The New York Times.”

  4. The other interesting thing about the McClatchy story I linked to is that there are two holes leaking, not one. That detail was buried in the middle of the story, but I wonder if it’s complicating the siphon tube effort?

  5. BDBlue

    Yves nails it, IMO:

    Note that the Administration is behaving with BP exactly as it did vis as vis the banksters in early 2009: believing that the problem is too complex and scary for them to assert control, casting its lot in with the people who caused the problem in the first place (while calling them bad names often enough to create plausible deniability). And enabling BP’s coverup of how bad the leak means, as Obama did with the financial services industry, of having to support, or at least not undermine too much, its PR efforts.

    And, yes, they’re lying. Instead of using this crisis to try to reign in big oil, they’re cravenly trying to protect themselves. As with the bailouts, I don’t think the public will be fooled. It’s eventually all going to come out and it’s going to be ugly.

  6. Celsius 233


    Yes, I’d agree and it’s so obvious as to defy belief; it shows the blatant contempt for the U.S. citizens intelligence. But then, maybe we’ve earned that opinion; after all, the government has been steamrolling the people for how many years now? 60 is it? We’re getting the government we’ve voted for, so, whose to complain?

  7. senecal

    We don’t really expect our presidents to tell the truth, do we? We do expect them to do the right thing eventually, keeping the public from panicking in the meantime with whatever platitudes and evasions are necessary. Basically, that means flying to the site, looking concerned, hurrying back to Washington (where they can actually DO something) creating an investigative panel and issuing periodic encouraging statements. They are NOT going to say, “shit, this is the biggest disaster I’ve ever heard of in my lifetime — I have no idea what to do about it!”

    Presidents are not philosopher kings, but masters of ceremonies.

  8. CMike

    If the federal government believes “that the problem is too complex and scary for them to assert control” isn’t there an alternative solution as to how to handle this? It’s a given that BP has a conflict of interest in deciding what to spend to fix this problem.

    The government should replace BP as the company managing the work to cap the well and give Exxon, or some other company, a no-bid cost plus contract to do it. The conditions of the contract should be that; whichever company does get the job, it should spare no expense to complete the task asap, the contract can be canceled at anytime if the government deems insufficient progress is being made, and the contractor’s plans and work must be open for inspection by other potential contractors so they may assess the progress being made and any one of those auditors should be allowed to make their case to the government that they should be allowed to take over as the project’s contractor.

    A second company should be given a contract to do clean-up work. If there’s any useful work to be done containing the oil as it disperses beyond the immediate area of the original drilling site, a third company should get that contract.

    Bills would be submitted to the government for approval and paid for by BP.

  9. Ian Welsh

    I expect a fuller mobilization than what they’ve done, and that requires them to admit how bad the problem is. I also note that constantly lieing about such things decreases trust in Government in general and Obama in specific. The way you deal with these things is say “The problem is X (truth) and here’s how we’re going to deal with it.”

  10. S Brennan

    File under:

    “I wonder what sort of sociopath you have to be to run BP, or the US.”

    British Petroleum executives, engineers, drilling supervisors on site & in their chain of command had or should have had reasonable foreknowledge of the events as they were about to unfold.

    Part of this story has confirmation, the other part could be easily put to rest if untrue…through British Petroleum’s helicopter & Schlumberger’s flight log.

    BP contracted Schlumberger (SLB) to run the (CBL) test that was the final test on the plug that was skipped. The people testifying have been very coy about mentioning this, and you’ll see why…SLB is an extremely highly regarded service company. Their determination has shut down unsafe operations in the past.
    “SLB gets out to the Deepwater Horizon to run the Cement Bond Log, and they find the well still kicking heavily, which it should not be that late in the operation. SLB tells BP’s senior operation officer he should dump kill fluid down the well and shut-in the well. The BP’s senior operation officer refuses. SLB in the very next sentence asks for a helo to take all SLB personnel back to shore. The company man says there are no more helo’s scheduled for the rest of the week (translation: you’re here to do a job, now do it). SLB gets on the horn to shore, calls SLB’s corporate HQ, and gets a helo flown out there at SLB’s expense and takes all SLB personnel to shore.”

    The well blew a few hours later.

    Leading one insider to comment:

    “British Petroleum executives, engineers, drilling supervisors on site & in their chain of command that had any thing to do with anyone of these actions should be brought up on charges of negligent homicide & multiple counts of negligent destruction to private, state, & federal property & have to answer for these indefensible decisions.”

    Obama is British Petroleum’s biggest recipient of campaign cash, he hired Interior Secretary Salazar, who in turn hired former BP exec’s to manage the US offshore drilling.

  11. S Brennan

    Just a friendly reminder:

    Obama is Goldman Sachs biggest recipient of campaign cash, he hired Summer, who in turn hired former Goldman Sachs exec’s to manage the US economy.

    Obama is Historic, a page of our past history.

    Bush/Obama – worst back to back presidents ever!

  12. Ian Welsh

    Link on the SLB Brennan?

  13. S Brennan

    File this one under, like he did for his campaign contributors in the financial industry:

    Obama helps British Petroleum hide incrimatinting evidence. Low estimate of oil spill’s size could save BP millions in court,

    “The question of the size of the spill has become a high stakes political controversy that’s put the Obama administration and the oil company on the defensive. In congressional testimony Wednesday, an engineering professor from Perdue University said that based on videos released Tuesday he believed the wells was spewing at 95,000 barrels of a day into the Gulf.

    BP and the Obama administration have said they did not want to take the measurements for fear of interfering with efforts to stanch the leaks. Legal experts say there’s another benefit for BP of not having a credible official estimate of the leak’s size: the amount of oil spilled is certain to be key evidence in the court battles likely to result from the disaster. The size of the Exxon Valdez spill, for example, was a significant factor that the jury considered when it assessed damages against Exxon…“If they put off measuring, then it’s going to be a battle of dueling experts after the fact trying to extrapolate how much spilled after it has all sunk or has been carried away,” said Lloyd Benton Miller, one of the lead plaintiffs’ lawyers in the Exxon Valdez spill litigation. ”The ability to measure how much oil was released will be

  14. marku

    I thought that the SLB rumor had not been verified, that the only thing we know for sure is that:
    1. SLB personnel left slightly before the blowout, this would be normal as their work was done and the well was going to be plugged.
    2. BP didn’t have SLB perform a Cement Bond Log, which would have been normal safety procedure before removing the heavy drilling mud (called “displacing the riser” in the activity log). It was the weight of the heavy drilling mud was preventing the well from “blowing out” since the cementing had failed and no one knew it. As soon as the mud was removed, the well blew.

    AFAIK, there is no sworn testimony that SLB and BP had the argument that supposedly lead to SLB leaving in a huff.

    However, #2 is evidence of extreme negligence, cost cutting, being in a hurry, and is definitely part of the record.

  15. marku

    Very complete (and readable) analysis of the blow out by an industry professional (not from BP) at

  16. The professor of engineering responsible for the 95Kbpd figure has downwardly revised his estimate “in half.” In other words, to about 50Kbpd. Source

  17. Ian Welsh

    Thanks Curmudgeon. Still about 10X official estimates, which was the main point.

  18. I’m not calling BP honest by any margin. It just makes for a stronger case to condemn them for their actual misbehavior rather than on unsubstantiated charges.

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