Oil sheen is seen Saturday in the waters off Barataria Bay west of Port Sulpher, Louisiana. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
Washington (CNN) - A BP estimate made after the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon noted that as much as 100,000 barrels per day could leak into the ocean if the blowout preventer and wellhead were removed, a higher worst-case scenario than previously reported.
According to an internal BP document released Sunday by Rep. Edward Markey, D-Massachusetts, BP believed that the worst-case scenario could be as high as 100,000 barrels, or 4.2 million gallons of oil per day.
The figure is the highest yet to surface regarding the leaking oil well. At the disaster's outset, BP claimed the leak was about 1,000 barrels a day, a number it later revised to 5,000 and then much higher. BP told the House Energy and Commerce Committee that the worst-case scenario was 60,000 barrels (2.5 million gallons) a day, lower than what the document states.
The document, submitted in May, maintains the 60,000 barrel estimate, but stipulates that if the "blowout preventer and wellhead are removed and if we have incorrectly modeled the restrictions, the rate could be as high as 100,000 barrels a day."
Markey said the document "raises very troubling questions about what BP knew and when they knew it."
"It is clear that, from the beginning, BP has not been straightforward with the government or the American people about the true size of this spill," said Markey, the chairman of the Energy and Environment Subcommittee in the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
"Considering what is now known about BP's problems with this well prior to the Deepwater Horizon explosion, including cementing issues, leaks in the blowout preventer and gas kicks, BP should have been more honest about the dangerous condition of the well bore," Markey said in a statement.
BP spokesman Robert Wine said the May estimate cited in Markey's document is irrelevant to the current situation because the oil company has no intention of removing the well's blowout preventer.
"The allegation doesn't make sense," Wine told CNN. "Why on earth would we remove the blowout preventer when it's sitting on top of the sea well and providing some control (of the spill)?"
Toby Odone, another spokesman for BP, added that the blowout preventer will be removed only when the well is completely killed.
Updated 5:15 p.m.