The Washington Post reports that one month before BP's Deepwater Horizon blowout, the company claimed in a filing with federal regulators that it could capture 491,721 barrels of oil per day in the event of a spill. 77 days after BP's leak began, it has managed to collect 12,177 barrels of oil per day -- just under 2.5% of their claimed capacity and roughly 20% of the upper-end of current flow-rate estimates.
BP's March response plan was filed with the federal Minerals Management Service, which has oversight over oil drilling. BP said it would reach the stated goal largely by deploying two companies that have the necessary expertise, trained staff and equipment: the nonprofit Marine Spill Response Corp. and the for-profit National Response Corp.
But Marine Spill Response said it was never asked whether it could hit the optimistic marks set by BP. National Response declined to comment.
"Not at any time were we consulted with what was in the plan either by MMS or by our customer," said Marine Spill Response spokeswoman Judith Roos.
After the blowout occurred, BP claimed to have capacity to skim at least 171,000 barrels per day. According to WaPo's calculations, it's actually skimmed just 900 barrels per day -- one-half of one percent of their claimed capacity.
Obviously, this raises serious questions both about BP's lack of accuracy (to put it charitably) and MMS's failure to verify BP's claims. As Felix Salmon points out, it also raises questions about what other oil companies have claimed -- and whether those claims have been vetted by Federal regulators.
It's yet another reason why it makes sense to place moratorium on the riskiest types of drilling activity. As President Obama has said, it appears as though the oil industry has been regulating itself -- and doing a bad job of it. Slowing things down to make sure we put the the right regulatory framework is simple common sense. It's astonishing that pro-oil zealots think it's a bad idea.