BP Document: 100K Barrels/Day Worst Case

Update at 6:20 pm ET — BP disputes Rep. Ed Markey's charge that one of the energy giant's internal documents shows the company wasn't being forthright with its initial estimates of how much oil could spew each day into the Gulf of Mexico from its broken well in a worst-case situation.

Markey said the document showed that BP knew its engineers had estimated that 100,000 barrels a day could spill into the Gulf, far less than BP told federal officials and the public.

But a BP spokesman said Sunday that worst-case estimate was only in the event that the blowout preventer was removed. That has happened.

As Reuters reports:

BP spokesman Toby Odone said the document appeared to begenuine but the estimate applied only to a situation in which akey piece of equipment called a blowout preventer is removed.

"Since there are no plans to remove the blowout preventer,the number is irrelevant," BP spokesman Toby Odone said.

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Another internal BP document has emerged that won't exactly add to the energy giant's credibility.

Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) who is perhaps BP's biggest Capitol Hill nemesis (which is saying a lot given how many there are) has released an undated BP document that indicates the company's engineers estimated that a malfunction of their equipment at the Macondo site could lead to a worst-case release of 100,000 barrels a day of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

Markey explains in a news release on his web site the significance of the document:

“Considering what is now known about BP’s problems with this well prior to the Deepwater Horizon explosion, including cementing issues, leaks in the blowout preventer and gas kicks, BP should have been more honest about the dangerous condition of the well bore,” said Markey, the chairman of the Energy and Environment Subcommittee in the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

On Thursday, Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen was asked in his daily briefing about the condition of the well bore.  He said there, “So what I would tell you is we don’t know exactly the condition of the well bore. And that’s one of the unknowns that we’re managing around in terms of risks.  And that’s the reason we didn’t go, didn’t go to excessive pressures on the top kill and decided that we’d deal with containment and then go for the final relief well.”

According to Admiral Allen: "I think that one thing that nobody knows is the condition of the well bore from below the blowout preventer down to the actual oil field itself.  And we don’t know, we don’t know if the well bore has been compromised or not."

What the BP document suggests that if the well bore is compromised or becomes compromised, we now know we could be looking at a flow rate 100 times BP's initial estimate.  Even if we can't know for certain the condition of the well bore, we should have known how much oil could flow from it—BP did.

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