Oil FAIL: Fuzzy math
There seems to be a notable fuzziness about all the numbers; that's not a confidence builder. At best, they don't know; at worst, they're obfuscating. Via Reuters, on the mile-long siphoning tube:
The underwater operation used guided robots to insert a small tube into a 21-inch (53-cm) pipe, known as a riser, to funnel the oil to a ship at the surface.
"It's working as planned and we are very slowly increasing the rate that is coming from the riser tool up to the surface," BP senior executive vice president Kent Wells told reporters at BP's U.S. headquarters in Houston.
What does "slowly increasing the rate" mean? Can't they just put a flowmeter on the pipe and give us some data?
"[The tube] is a good step forward," said Satish Nagarajaiah, professor in civil and mechanical engineering at Rice University in Houston, but he said the siphon tool is unlikely to capture more than 15-20 percent of the oil.
15-20% of what? The flow rate numbers are as mushy as bailout numbers!
Estimates of the rate of escaping oil range widely from the official BP figure of 5,000 barrels per day (210,000 gallons/795,000 liters), adopted by the government, to 100,000 barrels (4.2 million gallons/15.9 million liters) per day.
But the technology to get a good estimate on the flow is proven and available from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. So why aren't we using it? Because the good estimate is most likely at the low end? I doubt it! And what about the methane? Isn't anybody at all measuring it? Why not?
And then there are the giant undersea plumes. Here's what the scientists say:
The New York Times and other media reported scientists had detected huge oil plumes -- large columns of concentrated oil moving beneath the ocean surface -- in the Gulf, indicating the leak could be worse than estimates by BP and the government.
But BP disagrees:
BP said it had no confirmation of such undersea oil plumes and its spokesman, Andrew Gowers, appeared to dismiss the reports as scientifically unlikely.
"It is my observation as a layman that oil is lighter than water and tends to go up," Gowers told reporters.
Gosh, who to believe? Scientists, or BP flaks? What does the administration think? Can't they arbitrate or something?
So far, not the team I want deciding whether to close off the well using nuclear weapons. Eh?