Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Obama's Headlight Moment

President Obama said in his Oval Office address on the BP Oil Catastrophe, Day 57:

As a result of these efforts, we have directed BP to mobilize additional equipment and technology. In the coming days and weeks, these efforts should capture up to 90% of the oil leaking out of the well.

This is until the company finishes drilling a relief well later in the summer that is expected to stop the leak completely.
Ninety percent of 60,000 barrels per day is 54,000 bpd. That leaves 6,000 bpd flowing unimpeded into the Gulf of Mexico. That's more than the government's prior estimate of 5,000 bpd.

Neither BP or the administration have spoken to the well's integrity, i.e. whether subsurface failure has oil coming from fissures in the sea floor. But Obama did say:

The millions of gallons of oil that have spilled into the Gulf of Mexico are more like an epidemic, one that we will be fighting for months and even years.But make no mistake: we will fight this spill with everything we’ve got for as long it takes.

It sounds like an echo from April 29, Day 9:

President Barack Obama pledged an all-out response Thursday to the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico now expected to reach the Louisiana coast within a day and dispatched top officials to the region to help coordinate defenses against the potential environmental disaster. At the White House, Coast Guard Rear Adm. Sally Brice-O'Hara said, "We are being very aggressive and we are prepared for the worst case."

Obama promised to deploy "every single available resource" to the area and ordered his disaster and environmental leaders to go.

Obama again cited millions of gallons of oil in his Oval Office address:

Because of our efforts, millions of gallons of oil have already been removed from the water through burning, skimming, and other collection methods.

One might think the millions spilling roughly equaled the millions collected. Hardly. The gap is astounding.

At 35,000 barrels per day, the spill is nearly 84 million gallons after 57 days. That grows to almost 144 million gallons at 60,000 bpd. How much has been collected or burned? The White House reported:

Approximately 20.7 million gallons of an oil-water mix have been recovered. More than 205 controlled burns have been conducted, efficiently removing a total of more than 5 million gallons of oil from the open water in an effort to protect shoreline and wildlife.

Even if you give full credit for the oil-water mix, over 58 to 128 million gallons of oil remain on the loose. The Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of crude. Five to twelve Exxon Valdez's are in the Gulf of Mexico today. That number will grow before relief wells stop the leak. It's a vacuuming and sopping job until then.

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