Remember we were looking at the flow rate, and it looked way more than BP was claiming? Several universities were doing flow estimates based on the video feed, and they were coming out with much higher flow rates?
We/they were right.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - By arresting a former BP engineer Tuesday, federal prosecutors for the first time showed their hand in the Gulf oil spill case, saying they were probing whether BP PLC and its employees broke the law by intentionally lowballing how much oil was spewing from its out-of-control well.
Kurt Mix, 50, of Katy, Texas, was arrested Tuesday and charged with two counts of obstruction of justice for allegedly deleting about 300 text messages that indicated the blown-out well was spewing far more crude than the company was telling the public at the time.
Prosecutors also said BP gave the public an optimistic account of its May 2010 efforts to plug the well via a technique called a "top kill," even though the company's internal data and some of the text messages showed the operation was likely to fail.
An accurate flow-rate estimate is necessary to determine penalties BP and its subcontractors could face under the Clean Water Act. In court papers, prosecutors appeared to suggest the company was also worried about the effect of the disaster on its stock price.
Under the Clean Water Act, polluters can be fined $1,100 to $4,300 per barrel of spilled oil, with the higher amount imposed if the government can show the disaster was caused by gross negligence.
In public statements, the company professed optimism that the top kill would work, giving it a 60 to 70 percent chance of success.
On May 26, the day the top kill began, Mix estimated in a text to his supervisor that more than 15,000 barrels of oil per day were spilling - three times BP's public estimate of 5,000 barrels and an amount much greater than what BP said the top kill could probably handle.
At the end of the first day, Mix texted his supervisor: "Too much flow rate - over 15,000 and too large an orifice." [For Top Kill to work] Despite Mix's findings, BP continued to make public statements that the top kill was proceeding according to plan
, prosecutors said. On May 29, the top kill was halted and BP announced its failure."