May 30th, 2010
01:56 PM ET
13 years ago

Government, BP spar over size of oil leak

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption=" BP CEO Tony Hayward visited the spill site Friday in the Gulf of Mexico."]
Washington (CNN) - A top White House aide and the managing director of oil giant BP provided differing versions Sunday for who provided the initial inaccurate estimates of the size of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Robert Dudley, the BP official who appeared on CNN's "State of the Union" and other talk shows, said early estimates that 5,000 barrels (210,000 gallons) were leaking into the ocean each day came from government satellite imaging, rather than BP's figures.

An updated estimate issued last week by a government-led team put the leak at 12,000-19,000 barrels (504,000 to 798,000 gallons) a day, more than double the initial figure.

"The best way to measure those early rates or estimate those early rates were from satellite data, not BP data," Dudley said on the CBS program "Face the Nation."

Not true, countered Carol Browner, the assistant on energy and climate change to President Barack Obama, who spoke to the NBC program "Meet the Press" and the CBS show.

"The very, very first estimates came from BP," Browner said on the CBS program. "They had the footage of the plume. The government then did satellite imagery and we realized that those estimates were not accurate."

Browner noted that BP had a "vested financial interest" in downplaying the size of the leak.

Full story

Filed under: BP • Energy • Obama administration
soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. Larry

    BP should have flow data from before the rig explosion.

    How do you get flow data from a satellite image? That doesn't even make sense.

    May 30, 2010 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  2. phoenix86

    Let's see, Ob ama lies or BP? My guess is that it is Obama that is fabricating evidence.

    May 30, 2010 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  3. Accident or negligence..?

    "The Oil Spill" Spar over size is not the question....!

    BP spokesperson call the oil spill an accident and we beg to differ it was negligence of mega propprtion. It is quite evident that BP and the industry as a whole does not have the equipment and technolpgy to deal with such an emergency. and the question is also where was the
    Federal Government when it approved these drilling licences to PB.

    "BP' we know that TOP-KILL is the method to drill for oil wells ! So, what made you think it would work in reverse...? Except to buy time to improvise.....again to do what....????

    May 30, 2010 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    stop the dang leak ever thing else comes second pkm

    May 30, 2010 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  5. thor

    You can not trust either one of these people to tell the truth.!!!

    May 30, 2010 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  6. GI Joe

    Has anyone heard anything from Mr. Haliburton (Cheney – deregulate safety restrictions in secret meetings with oil execs) or from Ms. Drill Baby Drill?

    May 30, 2010 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  7. JonDie

    Of course BP is going to lie to try to skirt its responsibility for causing the most massive environmental disaster in U.S. history. But at the end of the day it doesn't matter; the "Drill, baby, drill! Pollute, baby, pollute! Make massive profits, baby, make massive profits!" crowd will still be in charge in Washington thanks to the efforts of all Republicans and a large number of Democrats.

    May 30, 2010 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  8. Brenda

    Why do we not have COMPETENT leadership in Washington??? 'You are doing one heckuva job O-Brownie".

    This disaster makes me want to cry-every time I see/hear anything about it.

    Obama and his Administration are INCOMPETENT–they should have been on this from day one. It took them a WEEK–before they even publicly ackowledged that the explosion occurred.

    I heard someone say that there is actually equipment/trucks that has been used at other locations throughout the world-–that suck up the water through hoses, filter out the oil, and then return the clean water to the ocean–why is this equipment not being used?

    And, where is the empty suit–on vacation AGAIN in Chicago.

    And, just think--these are also the same bunch of INCOMPETENTS who are in charge of our national security as well.

    May 30, 2010 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  9. Frank in valparaiso indiana

    Corporations lie. Which is why we need regulations.

    May 30, 2010 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  10. nancy tait

    Today I watched Candy Crowley. The former CEO of Shell Oil was a guest. He talked about oil clean up that worked in the Persian Gulf. He said that he has given this info to BP several times and has not recieved an answer from them. It sounded like a good plan. THIS is news that needs to be exposed again, and then maybe the federal government can really take over with a plan that will help.

    May 30, 2010 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  11. Richie

    If BP is not bankrupt after this, the fines were not large enough. NO MORE offshore drilling. EVER. $14/gallon gas is EXACTLY what we need to get people serious about alternatives.

    May 30, 2010 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  12. Darth Vadik, CA

    Geez, BP needs to be pay a fine that would send the executives into Jail and BP into bankruptcy, just as an example to others who might want to bypass safety measures.

    May 30, 2010 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  13. Karen

    Please stop arguing about this stuff and find someone, anyone brilliant enough to stop this gushing oil. There will be plenty of time for finger pointing later; right now people of Louisiana are suffering and the worst is yet to come. DO SOMETHING!

    May 30, 2010 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  14. George Guadiane - Austerlitz, NY

    If BP is really going to clean it all up (like they say they will), does it MATTER how big it is?

    May 30, 2010 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  15. Ryan

    Take your time guys. No really, we're cool with you basically committing negligent bio-terrorism on our shores.

    May 30, 2010 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  16. ajax

    They should have every possible boat out there in the Gulf sucking as much of this spilled oil as possible .Instead they seem more worried about how much oil there is and can they stop the leak.No ,they don't know how big the spill is and they probably won't be able to stop it anytime soon.But, one thing is certain for every ounce you suck up now that's one ounce less you have to deal with later and one ounce that will not make it into the marshes or shoreline where it will be harder to deal with.At this point i just don't see the real leadership.Sorry to say.!!!

    May 30, 2010 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  17. Jeff Spangler

    The volume of oil which will be released until August is HUGE. The numbers which should be carefully crunched are BP's market valuation and its available insurance for this spill. If potential damages exceed those combined numbers, BP should be and probably is considering bankruptcy on a parallel track with plugging the leak. Why do you think they hired Skadden as counsel? Why not simply tender the company and all insurance to the Treasury now in exchange for a complete release?

    May 30, 2010 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  18. mike

    never again will i give a PENNY to BP. take em down

    May 30, 2010 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  19. Too True For You

    Hey, anyone know where all the "Drill, baby, drill" idiots are posting nowadays?

    May 30, 2010 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  20. Jeff in Houston

    At this point, I would no more trust a BP employee than I would a Republican or a Tea Bagger. All three want you to sit down, shut up, and accept their authority in all things. Never!

    May 30, 2010 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |