Video: Live Feed of Oil Leak Released, BP Raises Siphoning Estimate

BY Jason Breslow  May 21, 2010 at 1:00 AM EDT

UPDATE: 1:27 a.m. ET Friday

BP has posted a new live stream shown below. This stream is intermittent, and requires Windows Media Player. (updated 6/8/2010 with Ustream.tv feed of the spill.)

Webcam chat at Ustream

The video below is an excerpt from the live feed, captured on May 20.

Updated 6:15 p.m. | BP now admits that there is more than its previous estimate of 5,000 barrels of oil per day flowing into the Gulf of Mexico.

With that in mind, we’ve updated our Gulf Leak Meter to reflect BP’s efforts to siphon oil directly out of the leaking well. And we’ve changed the default leak rate to reflect other estimates based on the work of outside experts, since BP no longer says it knows how much crude is flowing.

BP first inserted a mile-long tube into the well on Sunday and began capturing 1,000 barrels a day on the oil ship Enterprise. A day later, the company said 2,000 barrels per day were reaching the ship and later that was raised to 3,000. On Thursday, BP said the tube is diverting 5,000 barrels of oil a day.

We’ve segmented the nearly month-long oil leak into separate time periods based on each of BP’s reports, calculating the total amount spilled over each span of time, then totaling the segments.

We’ll post more as we get new information, and keep our ticker updated until the leak is plugged. Watch our Horizon Oil Spill page for updates.

Updated 5 p.m. | With oil now washing ashore along Louisiana’s fragile coastline, BP reported Thursday it is now siphoning more than 200,000 gallons of oil per day from the leak site in the Gulf of Mexico.

Separately, the company complied with a request from Rep. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., to show live video of the leak (see above).

As for the siphoning efforts, “That’s 5,000 barrels a day of oil that is not going onto the sea bed,” said Mark Salt, a BP spokesman.

BP officials have estimated the spill was flowing at a daily rate of 5,000 barrels, despite the doubts of multiple scientists. According to some estimates, oil is escaping into the Gulf at a rate as high as 100,000 barrels a day.

BP, for its part, has questioned outside estimates.

“Those figures of 70,000 barrels a day, 100,000 barrels a day, I have seen those. I think they’re very alarming figures,” Robert Dudley, the company’s executive vice president said on last night’s NewsHour. “They’re not based on science, and anything like what we’re seeing at the surface or what we estimate at the seabed.”

Watch the full interview with Robert Dudley.

BP’s next move to stem the nearly month-long spill — which has deposited millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf — will be to pump mud and concrete into the busted well. That process could begin as early as this weekend, according to BP.

In the meantime, the company has been ordered by the Environmental Protection Agency to begin using a less toxic form of chemical dispersants to break up the spill, The Washington Post reported.

The dispersants the company has been using “is essentially like soap,” BP’s Dudley told the NewsHour. However, according to the Post:

“The move is significant, because it suggests federal officials are now concerned that the unprecedented use of chemical dispersants could pose a significant threat to the Gulf of Mexico’s marine life.”