Press Release

May 30, 2012

Markey Statement on Reports of DOJ BP Flow Rate Investigation

Issues: BP Oil Spill


Congressman Led Efforts to Reveal True Rate of Spill, Releases Timeline of Flow Rate Issues

WASHINGTON (May 29, 2012) – A report by the Wall Street Journal indicates that the U.S. Department of Justice is investigating BP for possibly lying to Congress about the rate of oil flowing out of the company’s blown-out Macondo well during the Gulf spill in 2010. Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), who was the leading force pressing BP to reveal the true size and extent of the spill, today pledged his support for any government actions by the Justice Department and others to hold BP accountable.

Rep. Markey held the closed-door briefing on May 4, 2010 which is reportedly a focus of DOJ’s investigation. At that briefing, representatives from BP answered a question from Rep. Markey on the size of the spill, saying the worst-case scenario could be up to 60,000 barrels per day, with the most likely worst-case scenario being 40,000 barrels per day. Video of a press conference where Rep. Markey and others recap the meeting is available HERE.

“At the time of the spill, it was clear that when it came to the size of the problem, BP stood for beyond prevarication, constantly underestimating or hiding the true size of the spill,” said Rep. Markey. “BP must be held to account for their actions and for the amount of oil they spilled into the Gulf. Billions of dollars in fines are potentially at stake, and the U.S. government will not back down.”

Rep. Markey also released a timeline of actions he and others on the House Energy and Commerce Committee took to reveal the size of the spill, and BP’s responses and actions at the time, which is included below.


Rep. Markey's Investigation into the BP Oil Spill Flow Rate

Rep. Markey's ongoing investigation into the Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon oil spill revealed that at the time that BP was providing the public with low-range estimates of the daily flow rate, its internal documents show that BP knew all along that the likely flow rate of oil was much higher.

Based on these investigations it appears that had a more accurate flow rate been known earlier, the response to the spill may well have been different; more boom and skimmers might have been more quickly mobilized, the use of dispersants might have been adjusted and successful containment and capping strategies could have been developed and deployed more quickly.

April 24: BP initially asserted that the flow rate from the Macondo well was 1,000 bpd. 

April 27: BP internal document released by Rep. Markey showed an estimated flow rate in the range of 1,063-14,266 bpd

April 28: Coast Guard and NOAA publically estimate the flow rate to be at least 5000 bpd, which BP initially disagreed with.

May 4: BP, in a briefing to the House Energy and Environment Subcommittee Members, says that the worst-case flow rate could be 60,000 bpd with the most likely worst-case flow rate being 40,000 bpd.

May 24: BP provided internal documents to Markey confirming the 60,000 bpd estimate and the expected range of 5,000 to 40,000 bpd.

May 27: The Federal Flow Rate Technical Group released its first preliminary estimate of flow rate with a low-end of 12,000-19,000 bpd

June 10: The Federal Flow Rate Technical Group revised its flow rate estimate upwards to 20,000 - 40,000 bpd.

June 15: The Federal Flow Rate Technical Group and DOE scientists revise the flow rate estimate upwards to 35,000 - 60,000 bpd.

July 6, 11: BP internal dispersant documents indicate that dispersant application decisions were made using a flow rate assumption of 53,000 bpd.

August 2: The Federal Flow Rate Technical Group and DOE scientists revise their flow rate estimate upwards to 53,000 bpd (with 10% error) for mid-July and 62,000 bpd at the beginning of the spill.