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How many barrels of oil will the Interior Dept claim have been spilled in the BP / Deepwater Horizon oil spill?




Total Barrels Oil Spilled


Predicted: 3,609,000.00

Actual: 4,100,000.00

  • completed

Question ends

September 01, 2010 @ 06:30pm PDT



Predictions Made


Most by: AxmxZ (53 predictions)


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Eamon   •   Tue Aug 03 2010 at 04:58am PDT

This looks pretty darn official .. and might be the best number we will get

This article suggests the 4.1 Million barrels figure.

MFWinAlford   •   Tue Aug 03 2010 at 05:53am PDT

I guess that means you are using the net figure. According to the article I quote here, from the WSJ, there were 4.9 million barrels spilled, and .8 million recaptured or flared.

“Teams of scientists working with the U.S. government estimate that 62,000 barrels of oil a day—or a total of 4.9 million barrels—leaked into the Gulf of Mexico from the shattered well operated by BP PLC government agencies said Monday.

“The new estimate exceeds scientists’ previous estimate. That one said the Macondo well was gushing between 35,000 and 60,000 barrels of oil a day after the April 20 blast aboard the Deepwater Horizon rig, which BP had leased to drill the well.

“The scientific teams also estimate that as oil gushed out of the well over several weeks, the level of hydrocarbons in the underground reservoir was depleted. That resulted in a lower flow of oil out of the well, to about 53,000 barrels of oil a day just before BP sealed the well a little more than two weeks ago.

“The scientists also calculated that 800,000 barrels of the 4.9 million barrels were dispensed with by siphoning and flaring by BP.

“Under the Clean Water Act, BP might have to pay a fine of at least $1,100 per barrel of oil spilled. If the government determines that the spill was the result of gross negligence, the fine could spike to $4,300 per barrel of oil spilled. Based on the new spill estimate, BP would face a fine of more than $4 billion on the low end.

“BP was preparing to begin preliminary steps Tuesday to kill the deepwater well by flooding it with thousands of barrels of drilling mud.”

Write to Cassandra Sweet at [email protected]

AxmxZ   •   Mon Aug 02 2010 at 05:26pm PDT

Is the market going to cash out at the TOTAL number of barrels spilled, or barrels that have been spilled minus barrels that had been re-captured/skimmed/etc.?

leto2   •   Mon Aug 02 2010 at 08:09pm PDT

Total spilled — just because it’s been recaptured doesn’t mean it wasn’t spilled.

AxmxZ   •   Mon Aug 02 2010 at 08:10pm PDT

Then it looks like the market has low-balled it a bit.

MFWinAlford   •   Tue Aug 03 2010 at 03:04am PDT

Well, leto2 gives one opinion, but the only one that counts is that of the Creator, who will be paying out the inkles. According to Eamon’s previous comments, the payout will be based on the official number. Right now, that’s being shown on the NYT website cited above as 4.1 million barrels, still somewhat above where this market is now trading.

AxmxZ   •   Mon Aug 02 2010 at 05:18pm PDT

New article up today in NYT, tellingly titled “U.S. Puts Oil Spill Total at Nearly 5 Million Barrels.”

MFWinAlford   •   Tue Aug 03 2010 at 05:54am PDT

WOW! You made a killing on this one, didn’t you? Good call!

AxmxZ   •   Tue Aug 03 2010 at 08:30am PDT

Half a million between yesterday and today. :)

AxmxZ   •   Sun Aug 01 2010 at 10:59pm PDT

A range from Thad Allen, as of July 28th:

“Thad Allen, the federal oil-spill response chief, said: “When you put somewhere between 3 million and 5.2 million barrels of oil in the Gulf of Mexico, I don’t think anybody can understate the gravity of that situation.”

Politico   •   Mon Aug 02 2010 at 03:22am PDT

That’s interesting: his low end is about equal to the high end of official estimates, according to the NYT:

That suggests that perhaps the final number will be more than this market is currently predicting.

Eamon   •   Thu Jul 01 2010 at 05:18am PDT

Interesting comments on tracking the total oil spilled:

MFWinAlford   •   Thu Jul 01 2010 at 05:46am PDT

Thanks for another good link. The estimates mentioned here would suggest a range (to date) of 1.7 to 3.3 million barrels!

tyrannic   •   Sat Jun 26 2010 at 07:55pm PDT

Just go to for a live estimate…

leto2   •   Sat Jun 26 2010 at 08:06pm PDT

Wow, it’s like gmail’s mailbox size… except in barrels. Very sad. Note that you can click between 35K, 45K, and 60K barrels per day — the default is 35K.

Politico   •   Sun Jun 27 2010 at 08:04am PDT

Maybe someone mentioned this before (I don’t see it): the NYT has an interactive graphic at

They show the “Gov’t min” and “max” to be 39.7MM gal. & 114.5MM gal.

This translates into a range of a bit less than 1MM to about 2.7MM. Of course, that’s only SO FAR! And when will it end? Are we 2/3 of the way there? halfway? Who knows!

Eamon   •   Thu Jul 01 2010 at 05:25am PDT

It is interesting to note where the oil has made landfall.

MFWinAlford   •   Wed Jun 16 2010 at 02:14am PDT

The New York Times reports a large upward revision (yet again!) in the estimate of oil escaping.

Eamon   •   Fri Jun 11 2010 at 08:30am PDT

New Official update of flow rate estimates:

Good illustrated blog post with the link

MFWinAlford   •   Fri Jun 11 2010 at 02:08pm PDT

Thanks for the good links. I read all the reports, and the blog. Depressing. I almost feel guilty buying shares here because it feels like rooting for disaster. Yet, one has to be realistic. Obviously, BP has had no motivation to tell the truth, since their liability will be a function of how much spillage there is. I’m glad to see the government taking a more proactive role.
It appears to me that the now accepted range of leakage so far is 1MM to 2MM barrels. This market is at the top end of that as I write, though of course we don’t yet know how much longer this will go on, nor can we have a lot of confidence in these still-preliminary estimates. Not a pretty picture.

MFWinAlford   •   Tue Jun 08 2010 at 03:30am PDT

This article in the NY Times
entitled “Rate of Oil Leak, Still Not Clear, Puts Doubt on BP” suggests that the government is getting more assertive about tracking the flow. There’s even a hint they might put an actual measuring device down there. What a radical idea! It’s pretty obvious why BP hasn’t done so.
Money quote: “Dr. Leifer said in an interview on Monday that judging from the video, cutting the pipe might have led to a several-fold increase in the flow rate from the well.”

Eamon   •   Sat Jun 05 2010 at 09:11am PDT

Interesting infographic on this topic

MFWinAlford   •   Sun Jun 06 2010 at 04:30am PDT

Eamon   •   Sun Jun 06 2010 at 10:58am PDT

That report bothered me .. for a lot of reasons. 6000 barrels captured, sounds like a “cooked” number, because it’s 120% of the 5000 barrel lower bound that was put out there ..

It looks to try to confirm BPs estimae, because they said that cutting off the old pipe would potentially cause a 20% increase.

.. but there are some other weird things about this cap. It has vents that release some of the oil (so it doesn’t get blown off by the force of the flow.)

MFWinAlford   •   Mon Jun 07 2010 at 12:23am PDT

Your link to “Information is Beautiful” suggests that even if the leak is stopped August 1 (unlikely, I think), there will be 2.6 MM barrels spilled. Not sure if that’s a good estimate, and there is a lot of misinformation out there (like BP denying, even in the face of independent scientific evidence, that there are underwater oil plumes), so it’s hard to know what the “official” number will be.

AxmxZ   •   Sat May 29 2010 at 09:01pm PDT

Well, top kill failed and relief wells are months away. We’re all screwed.

MFWinAlford   •   Sun May 30 2010 at 01:34am PDT

Our only hope is to undertake a huge (inter)national effort to stop the use of fossil fuels. Meanwhile, although there is nothing funny about the situation (in fact, it’s downright depressing!), the comics have been able to make hay with dark humor.

“The BP president said yesterday that the company would survive. That’s like someone running over your dog and saying, ’Don’t worry, my car is fine.’” -Jimmy Fallon

“BP wants Twitter to shut down a fake BP account that is mocking the oil company. In response, Twitter wants BP to shut down the oil leak that’s ruining the ocean.” -Jimmy Fallon

“And because of the ocean currents, experts say oil from the Gulf could easily spread up the East Coast all the way to the Carolinas. In fact, today, people in North Carolina said they hadn’t seen anything this slick and slimy since the John Edwards campaign.” -Jay Leno

“It’s pretty hard for fans of ‘Lost’ now that it’s finally over. If people want to get their fix, they’ll have to follow that other group that’s lost and confused in the middle of the ocean. You know, BP.” -Jimmy Fallon

“Sarah Palin has now weighed in on the gulf oil spill. Finally, the voice of reason. She said that President Obama should grasp the complexity of the situation. Sarah Palin giving advice on complexity. What, was Snooki from ‘Jersey Shore’ unavailable?” -Jay Leno

“Earlier today, British Petroleum began this operation known as ‘top kill,’ which comes on the heels of their previous operations, ‘fish kill’ and ‘bird kill.’” -Jay Leno

“One of the big gambling Web sites published odds on what species would be the first to become extinct from the oil spill. Unbelievable. You know the odds-on favorite? Democrat.” -Jay Leno

MFWinAlford   •   Fri May 28 2010 at 03:56pm PDT

Am I correct that the conversion ratio of gallons to barrels is 42? If so, a million gallons of oil would be nearly 24K barrels. This series of headlines suggests, in line with my own thinking, that between 19 MM and 39 MM gallons have already been spilled, translating (I think) into 432K to 928K barrels. And no word yet, I think, on whether the “top kill” worked.

Eamon   •   Mon May 31 2010 at 09:10am PDT

RE: “42 gallons per barrel of oil”

Yes, That is the conversion rate.

Eamon   •   Thu May 27 2010 at 02:07pm PDT

The Flow Rate Technical Group, created by the US Geological Survey, part of the Department of the Interior had a press conference today:

While Dr. McNutt declined to extrapolate the total spill from the Flow Rate, she provided some basic metrics which could be used to do this.

Although the “top kill” procedure has slowed the flow, the flow has not stopped, formally as of yet.

MFWinAlford   •   Thu May 27 2010 at 03:01pm PDT

Well (so to speak), there’s reality and then there’s a “best estimate” from an agency that seems to be clueless. One thing is clear (to me, anyway) — this tragedy has far exceeded the Valdez spill, by a factor of at least 2 to 1. Other estimates would double or triple that. This could be Obama’s Katrina. The government was, at best, unprepared for a disaster of this magnitude, and, at worst, is complicit in letting it happen. So, it seems to me, neither BP nor the DOI has an interest in admitting how much oil has actually escaped. I won’t be angry if I lose money in this market. I’m angry because this avoidable lunacy has threatened or even brought to an end a way of life on the Gulf Coast.

MFWinAlford   •   Wed May 26 2010 at 07:19am PDT

How do you know they are going to release such a number? What if they don’t? What will be your source?
It seems highly unlikely to me that the full extent of the spill will ever be known. Only a fraction of the oil being spilled (not even to mention the natural gas, in nearly equal quantities) is visible at the surface.
Current estimates of the flow rate range all over the lot. NOAA’s official estimate stands at 5Kbbl/day, to which BP objected, even though the company testified to Congress that the “worst case” scenario could result in leakage of 60Kbbl/day. In between, you have visual analysis by MacDonald of FSU of at least 26.5Kbbl/day, and Wereley of Purdue (who testified to Congress) using video footage of the wellhead to come up with a range of 39 to 58Kbbl/day. So, except for the NOAA number, all of these estimates suggest that at least a million barrels have ALREADY been spilled, with no end yet in sight.

Eamon   •   Wed May 26 2010 at 11:05am PDT

Someone is going to have to certify a number so that lawsuits can collect damages. I saw a news account stating that Obama had directed Salazar with regards to getting a better reporting of the number [needs source]. I understand that we may never know the actual number, which is why I specify the first number estimate released by the Dept of Interior after capping. (

And yes, you are right, currently this topic is under performing even current estimates.

Eamon   •   Wed May 26 2010 at 11:09am PDT

leto2   •   Fri May 21 2010 at 10:22pm PDT

Lots of estimates flying around right now. I’m guessing that it’s around >20k barrels per day — BP’s siphoning around 5K and they’re only getting a small part of it. That would mean >600K per month — and it’s going to take a while to cap it all off.


"because it's more realistic"

yasheshb bought at 2,674,000.00
June 28, 2010 @ 06:51am PDT

"Because the news is saying the rate is closer to 20,000 barrels per day"

quum2!wP bought at 847,000.00
May 25, 2010 @ 09:45am PDT


Eamon bought at 780,000.00
May 22, 2010 @ 11:00pm PDT

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Total Barrels Oil Spilled