New reports are coming out today that BP’s top kill plan is a success. The pipe full of mud is blocking further flows into the Gulf of Mexico. The news can’t come soon enough since it’s definitely possible that the well was leaking 100,000 barrels a day.
The top kill is a temporary method before the well is completely sealed off with concrete. Hopefully it holds until the final seal is placed over the well. There are also rumors of additional leaks. A well blowout this large creates a mess that affects visibility and measuring instruments in the entire area, so it’s too soon to tell whether there are additional leaks nearby. Sealing off the main leak might put pressure elsewhere if the sea floor that is holding the oil in place has been damaged.
New oil wells will not be approved, but there are still many other wells operating in the Gulf of Mexico. The heightened concern is a good motivator to go and check the nearby deep water rigs to make sure that they are not at risk. There is another issue here, wells that other companies operate now get an excuse for any leaks they produce, since they can blame oil in the Gulf and on the beaches on the BP disaster. The exact amount that leaked from the spill must be calculated.
How much oil flowed out of the well? If it was going at 100,000 barrels a day for the entire month, that’s 3 million barrels. From the reports it sounds like the rate was much lower initially, and increased gradually over the period, 1000 barrels per day on the first day. An average rate of 50,000 barrels throughout the entire month is 1.5 million barrels. The Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons, according to the State of Alaska, or 250,000 barrels.