Scientists have said that up to twenty percent more oil could gush out after underwater robots cut off the the pipe at the top of the blow out preventer but BP's managing director tried to downplay the potential increase Tuesday. This next operation is being called the Lower Marine Riser Package (LMRP).
"There will be a little bit more oil," Bob Dudley said on the CBS Early Show.
Harry Smith was incredulous. "Well, twenty percent is not insignificant if thousands and thousands of barrels of oil are pouring out of there," said Smith.
Dudley avoided Smith's point. "I think you will see that these containment domes will work. We have four of them on the site depending on how the cut is to be able to lift it down by the end of the week here," Dudley replied.
The federal government has said that the actual flow rate could be as high as 19,000 barrels per day. A twenty percent increase would mean an additional 3,800 barrels per day.
BP initially estimated the flow rate at 1,000 barrels per day and then revised that estimate to 5,000 barrels per day.
White House energy policy advisor Carol Browner believes BP has a vested interest in underestimating the flow rate. "I think it's important for the public to understand that BP does have a financial interest in downplaying the size of the flow," Browner told ABC's Robin Roberts Tuesday.
"The American people need to know what the number is and this number will become an important piece of the litigation going forward because BP will be required to pay fines, a per barrel, per day fine of what they are leaking," she said.