Tony Hayward, BP’s controversial CEO, thinks the Gulf Coast will ultimately benefit from his company’s catastrophic environmental disaster. Yesterday, the foreign oil giant announced that the “net revenue” from selling the oil being drawn to the surface from the uncontrolled gusher will go into “a new wildlife fund to create, restore, improve and protect wildlife habitat along the coastline of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.” Hayward claimed that BP’s recovered-oil money is the silver lining to the incomprehensible damage being done by the oil itself:
We’ve already launched the largest environmental response in history, and BP is committed to protecting the ecosystems and wildlife on the Gulf Coast. Proceeds from the sale of oil recovered from the MC252 well will be used to further this commitment. We believe these funds will have a significant positive impact on the environment in this region.
With the approval of the Obama administration, BP sheared the gushing riser pipe six days ago and installed a funnel to draw off some of the oil, pumped to a ship on the surface above. The surface ship, the Discoverer Enterprise, is now processing oil at maximum capacity — 630,000 gallons a day — without any visible decrease in the amount of oil gushing into the ocean at the seabed.
Two of the scientists working in the federal Flow Rate Technical Group, Ira Leifer and Steve Wereley, have described why that’s the case. The “top kill” effort to pump the wellbore with mud cleared out obstructions to the upward flow, and then shearing the riser pipe widened the outflow hole. They have indicated that the flow rate — which had been one to two million gallons a day — is likely to now be two to four million gallons a day or even more, with only about twenty percent of the oil being captured.
Even as the oil is being captured at maximum capacity, undersea dispersants are still being pumped into the uncaptured gusher at or around the maximum rate of 15,000 gallons a day as well. Satellite imagery shows an undiminished surface slick menacing four states.
The reason BP has launched the “largest environmental response in history” is, of course, because the company has caused one of the largest environmental catastrophes in history — one with no end in sight.