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Signs of Higher Flow Rate: BP Captures 14,800 Barrels of Oil

BP reported this morning that on Monday it captured approximately 14,800 barrels of oil from the broken well in the Gulf of Mexico, where crude has been flowing since the Deepwater Horizon rig sank on April 22.

As we’ve done since BP began capturing oil from the well, we’ve updated our Gulf Leak Meter to reflect that new figure. We’ve also decided to update the minimum leak rate on our meter.

On May 27, a government panel said the flow rate was at least 12,000 to 19,000 barrels of oil per day. We adjusted the ticker then, using 12,000 as our new minimum. That figure is clearly too low, since BP can’t capture more oil than is leaking, so we’ve set the minimum possible leak rate to the next available rate, 19,000 barrels (798,000 gallons) per day.

This squares with what outside scientists and some on the U.S. Geological Survey panel have told us: 12,000 to 19,000 barrels per day is a minimum, not the total possible range.

Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen said in a press conference today that the panel is continuing to work on a revised estimate of the size of the oil leak.

Allen said that the amount of oil flowing from the pipe might have increased by up to 20 percent last week after BP cut the riser pipe in order to fit on the containment cap, and at least one scientist told the New York Times that the increase could have been even greater.

The team will attempt to estimate the amount of oil flowing from the pipe both before and after the riser was cut, Allen said. We will continue to update the ticker as more information becomes available.

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