BP emails reveal the company underreported the 2010 Gulf spill
If you were around way back in 2010, you may remember that an oil platform owned by a certain company (it was called “BP”) exploded, killing 11 people and initiating a massive, months-long spill.
You may also remember that the company (again, BP, or “British Petroleum”) repeatedly seemed to underestimate how much oil was being spilled. See, for example, this article from May of that year, “BP’s estimate of spill rate is way low, engineer suggests.”
The engineer was right, and BP knew it. From The Huffington Post:
Emails that attorneys representing a defendant in the BP oil spill case plan to introduce in February show for the first time that the oil company knew the massive scale of the 2010 blowout in the Gulf of Mexico weeks earlier than previously disclosed.
BP has long maintained that it provided full disclosure to the public and the federal government about its knowledge of the spill’s extent and did so promptly. The emails suggest otherwise.
BP has said in the past that it learned of the spill’s full extent months after the April 2010 blowout. But the emails indicate that the company knew almost immediately after the drilling rig exploded, killing 11 workers and injuring 17, that the spill may be extraordinarily large. …
Just two days after the rig explosion, [BP engineer Kurt] Mix emailed a projection to a supervisor estimating the runaway well could be leaking from 62,000 barrels per day to 146,000 barrels per day. Two days later, BP executives told the Coast Guard their best estimate for the leak was 1,000 barrels per day. A federal scientific group concluded after the well was capped that the flow was 62,000 barrels per day at the beginning of the disaster.
The projection from the engineer in that May 2010 story I mentioned above? 70,000 barrels a day.
Although BP has already settled with the government, the emails could play a role in both civil litigation and criminal trials — including the trial of Kurt Mix, who faces obstruction-of-justice charges for deleting text messages related to the spill.
The moral of the story is this: You cannot trust criminals, small children, or oil companies to tell you the truth about what they’ve done. Much less if they fall into two of those categories.
BP Oil Spill Flow Rate Vastly Understated For Weeks, Emails Show, Huffington Post.