A few facts are visible through the oily mess of BP's Gulf well blowout.
- The estimates of how much oil has been pumped into the Gulf of Mexico started with BP saying less than 1,000 barrels a day was flowing. But that was when they were able to keep outside experts far away. By late April the government lowballed the number at 5,000 barrels, a number the government clung to for weeks. By May independent experts had raised the estimates to over 20,000 barrels a day. Using computers to calculate the visible flow from the pipe a more reasonable number exceeds 50,000 barrels a day, 2 to 3 million gallons a day.
- At a conservative
100 million barrels, to date, and Clean Water Act fines of $1,100 per barrel, BP faces civil penalties of $110 billion. BP's net worth, their Enterprise Value, is $132 billion. (What's funny here is that reporters, lacking access to calculators, have been under reporting the potential fines.)Okay, I screwed up the math. The actual numbers, to date, is about 3 million barrels leaving a base fine of $3.3 billion. BP can pay that out of petty cash. Gallons, barrels, who can keep it all straight?
- BP claims they are collecting 15,000 barrels of oil through their cap. Since snipping the pipe increased the oil flow by 20% (about 10,000 barrels a day) they are doing a little better than breaking even.
- Talk about raising BP's liability cap is blue smoke, a meaningless political show. Any effort by Congress will be overturned by the Supreme Court (ex post facto law).