What’s BP’s Spill Tab?

Fight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.


At last, an official estimate of how much oil has been dumped into the Gulf of Mexico, though it isn’t pretty: 4.9 million barrels, or 205.8 million gallons. That makes the spill almost twenty times the size of the Exxon Valdez, according to a new total released last night.

New figures from the government flow rate team estimate that 62,000 barrels of oil gushed from the hole daily in the initial weeks of the spill, eventually slowing to 53,000 in later weeks. A portion of that flow—800,000 barrels—was captured via capping and siphoning. Some of it was also burned off or skimmed, but the vast majority ended up in the Gulf. (Even if you can’t see it because of all that dispersant the company also dumped in the water).

The 53,000 barrel figure toward the end of the spill lines up with BP’s own internal estimates, despite the fact that the company was publicly offering a much, much lower figure. At first the company said just 1,000 barrels a day was leaking from the well; BP later adopted the federal government’s initial (and woefully low) 5,000 barrel estimate.

Of course, BP had every reason to low-ball the figure. The updated estimate means that, at up to $4,300 per barrel, the company could now owe the federal government $21 billion fines for Clean Water Act violations alone. Factor in the fines for damage to natural resources and all the compensation to injured individuals and businesses in the region and you’re talking serious amounts of cash that BP can expect to shell out in the coming years.

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

payment methods

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate