Gulf oil spill climbs to 60,000 barrels a day after scientists evaluate new data

THE VOLUME of oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico from the Macondo well is higher than originally thought after US scientists estimated that up to 60,000 barrels a day could be flowing into the water.

Yesterday, US energy secretary Steven Chu and Interior secretary Ken Salazar said that a new estimated range of between 35,000 and 60,000 barrels was more accurate because the scientists had better data.

The new estimates mark a staggering increase from the original prediction of 1,000 barrels a day, which was made almost two months ago when the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on 20 April.

US President Barack Obama called the spill “the worst ever recorded in our history” as local wildlife and communities have been devastated by the catastrophe.

BP said yesterday that it had achieved further success in its attempts to plug the leak after lowering a second containment cap to sit on top of the current one.

The new cap, which is called Q4000, is expected to expand the amount of oil being captured from the ruptured blow-out preventer to between 20,000 to 28,000 barrels per day.

Yesterday, BP said it had captured 10,400 barrels of oil and 160,400 barrels since it initially placed the lower marine riser package on the blow-out preventer. Despite a small fire yesterday, which delayed BP’s efforts, hopes remain high at the UK oil major that the new move could “optimise the collection” of oil re-directed to the Gulf’s surface.