The weekend brought us news of BP’s new “containment cap” being so wildly successful (in a so-far-so-good sense of course, everyone is careful to add immediately; lest someone accuse them of premature jocularity, in Keith Olbermann‘s immortal phrase, from back when he was a mere sportscaster on ESPN).
BP released another in a long and distinguished line of “We’re very pleased!” statements about the oil spill.
With the containment cap in place, we are told that the spill is producing (don’t oil companies positively have a way with words?) 10,000 barrels of oil per day:
Speaking on the Andrew Marr Show, Mr Hayward said: “As we speak, the containment cap is producing around 10,000 barrels of oil a day to the surface.”
So, you’re probably wondering what BP’s official estimate of the Deepwater Horizon spill rate now stands at.
Last we heard, the highest number they had officially committed to was still just 5,000 barrels a day. This was even after the U.S. government’s expert panel, the Flow Rate Technical Group, pronounced the spill rate to be between 12,000 and 25,000 barrels a day almost two weeks ago. (Speaking of which, here’s a funny story.)
Even after BP announced they were collecting 5,000 barrels a day through a siphon tube inserted into the ruptured pipe, they were careful not to update their previous estimate with an actual number. That’s what brought us this immortal piece of spokesmanese:
Now that we are collecting 5,000 barrels a day, (the spill rate) might be a little more than that.
So now that they are producing 10,000 barrels a day, do we have a new and improved official estimate from BP? Ha! They are still playing the same old game, where all they’ll say is that the spill rate is a little bit higher than their current collection rate. And it starts at the very top:
Asked what amount of the estimate that represented, the BP chief executive said it was expected to be “the majority, probably the vast majority” of the oil gushing out.
“We have a further containment system to implement in the course of this coming week which will be in place by next weekend so when those two are in place, we would very much hope to be containing the vast majority of the oil.”
Translation into plain English: “Are you effing crazy? You expect me to give you an actual number? Or a percentage that you can convert into an actual number? You think I’m bloody retarded?”
Why, oh why, would BP be so coy about the size of the spill? Carol Browner, who used to head the Environmental Protection Agency under Clinton, and is now director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy, thinks she knows why:
Browner noted that BP had a “vested financial interest” in downplaying the size of the leak.
“They will ultimately pay a fine based on those rates,” Browner said.
And Rep. Ed Markey seems to second the motion:
Rep. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, who heads the House Energy and Environment subcommittee, agreed that the company “had a stake in low-balling the number right from the very beginning.”
… Noting that BP has consistently provided information that proved to be wrong, Markey said he had “no confidence whatsoever in BP.”
June 1: The Long Arm Of The Stock Market
May 27: Quote Of The Day
May 26: Scenes From A Spill
May 24: How Retarded Can One Corporation Be?
May 18: BP’s Strategy Pays Off
May 17: On The Evolution Of The Deepwater Horizon Spill Rate Estimate