BP challenges oil spill estimates

Dec. 4, 2010 at 10:53 AM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 4 (UPI) -- An attorney for the U.S. Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling Commission said oil company BP is challenging estimates of this summer's oil spill.

Priya Aiyar, a lawyer for the commission, said attorneys for the British oil company had challenged the commission's estimate that 5 million barrels of oil were released by the Madondo oil well spill that began with an April explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico killed 11 workers.

The estimate is the key figure for arriving at a fine, which would cost $1,100 per barrel if the spill is ruled an accident and $4,300 per barrel if it involved company negligence, The New York Times reported Saturday.

Aiyar said BP "thinks the actual flow rate could be 20 to 50 percent lower" than the commission's estimate, The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reported.

The government's flow estimates "appear biased toward the maximum amount of oil that could have been discharged, rather than the amount of oil most likely to have been discharged," BP said.

Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., responded with a letter to BP Chief Executive Officer Bob Dudley that said, "BP's new claim … flies in the face of multiple lines of evidence, and raises questions whether this is a scientific finding or a litigious position."

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