As Oil Gushes, Information From BP Slows To A Trickle

Riser cap gusher
Oil gushes from the riser cap Friday afternoon.

According to a top BP official, the effectiveness of the latest attempt to capture oil from the Deepwater Horizon blowout will only be announced once every twenty-four hours. In a press briefing this afternoon, BP senior vice president Kent Wells discussed their latest attempt to capture some of the gushing oil using a funnel placed on the riser pipe at 11 PM last night. Wells refused to tell reporters how much oil and natural gas is being captured by the funnel and drawn to the Discoverer Enterprise, Transocean’s ultra-deepwater drilling ship.

Wells stated that BP arranged with National Incident Commander Thad Allen to only release information on how much oil is being captured once every 24 hours.

Wells said that he expects the success rate of the riser cap to be announced during Allen’s once-a-day briefings.

This is yet another case of the federal government allowing BP to limit information instead of oil damage — a pattern that has emerged as the public and press have unsuccessfully attempted to get clear answers about the blowout flow rate, the damage to wildlife, the status of undersea oil plumes, the toxicity of dispersants, claims processing, offers of assistance and and more. The live feeds from BP’s robot submarines were made public after over a month of wrangling and pressure from Congress.

The live data about the oil recovery efforts — such as pressure, flow rate, and chemical composition — should be made public immediately. Each bit of knowledge assists in the effort by the nation to comprehend and respond rapidly to this growing disaster.

This is a matter not just of public interest but of great financial significance — BP intends to sell the oil being collected for a potential revenue of more than $1.4 million a day.

Under sustained questioning, Wells finally admitted that the limiting factor of the recovery effort is not the flow rate of the gusher — still utterly unknown — but the capacity of the Discoverer Enterprise, which is 630,000 gallons (15,000 barrels) a day. That capacity is not expected to be reached for days, as most of the oil is still being vented into the ocean at the sea bed and injected with toxic dispersants. BP engineers intend to slowly close vents and increase the still-secret capture rate.

Also today, BP announced that it would be spinning off its disaster response efforts as a separate unit to be led by BP managing director Bob Dudley, who believes that CEO Tony Hayward is “doing a fantastic job” and believes that BP’s “spill responses at the surface now are being very, very effective.”

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