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BP’s Oil-Spill Estimate May Be 50% Below U.S. Report, Panel Says

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BP’s Oil-Spill Estimate May Be 50% Below U.S. Report
Transocean Ltd.'s Development Driller III rig works to drill the primary relief well at the BP Plc Macondo site in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana in August. Photographer: Derick E. Hingle/Bloomberg

Dec. 3 (Bloomberg) -- BP Plc may estimate that the amount of oil spilled after the Macondo well blast was as much as 50 percent below reports issued by the U.S., according to the staff of the commission investigating the Gulf of Mexico disaster.

BP said the federal estimate of almost 5 million barrels is “premature and inaccurate,” the London-based company said in an Oct. 21 report to the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill that the panel discussed in Washington today.

“While BP has not released its own flow-rate estimates, it has suggested that the government’s estimate of the total amount of oil released from the Macondo well -- 4.9 million barrels -- is overstated by 20 percent to 50 percent,” the commission said in a Nov. 22 report, citing an Oct. 22 meeting with BP.

At stake is BP’s potential liability for the spill, triggered by the April 20 blast that killed 11 workers, spewed crude for 87 days and shut a third of the Gulf to fishing. Federal law requires that companies spilling oil into U.S. waters pay a per-barrel fine, with higher penalties if the accident was caused by gross negligence.

The commission is holding a final public meeting today before submitting a report on its findings to President Barack Obama in early January.

To contact the reporters on this story: Katarzyna Klimasinska in Washington at kklimasinska@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Liebert at lliebert@bloomberg.net.

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