“They Were Purposefully Trying to Deceive Everyone”

As BP’s well gushed into the Gulf of Mexico last year, the question of exactly how much oil it was spewing was hotly contested. BP first estimated that only 1,000 barrels of oil were leaking from the well each day; only months later would a team of scientists organized by the federal government conclude that it was actually more like 53,000 barrels per day.

It wasn’t that BP couldn’t come up with a better figure even in the early days of the spill. In fact, in 2008 the company had touted its advanced technology for measuring flow rate. And in an interview with Project Gulf Impact posted today, Dr. Ira Leifer, a professor of chemical engineering at the University of California-Santa Barbara, explains how BP misled the scientists they tapped to produce flow rate estimates.

“The data we had was abdominable,” says Leifer, describing footage that they were supposed to use to estimate the flow rate as “worse than the quality you typically see on YouTube.” Rather than giving them the original footage of the spill site to evaluate, it appeared as if BP had taken a video of a computer monitor showing the actually footage and given them the blurry, jerky copy. “They were purposefully trying to deceive everyone,” says Leifer.

Here’s the full video:

THANK YOU.

We recently wrapped up the crowdfunding campaign for our ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project, and it was a smashing success. About 10,364 readers pitched in with donations averaging $45, and together they contributed about $467,374 toward our $500,000 goal.

That's amazing. We still have donations from letters we sent in the mail coming back to us, so we're on pace to hit—if not exceed—that goal. Thank you so much. We'll keep you posted here as the project ramps up, and you can join the hundreds of readers who have alerted us to corruption to dig into.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight 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

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.