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Many technical experts have said that the first attempts to complete the relief well in August could miss entirely on the first try, as it is difficult to intersect the blown-out well at the precise location and angle needed.
If the current relief wells fail, it could be until December or early next year until a correctly-positioned relief well can be completed.
Indeed, ABC News implies that even after the relief well is completed, the Gulf oil may keep on flowing for months. Specifically, ABC points out:
Past experience in the Gulf of Mexico has been sobering. In 1979, a Mexican-owned
The Gulf oil spill is much worse than originally believed.
As the Christian Science Monitor writes:
It's now likely that the actual amount of the oil spill dwarfs the Coast Guard's figure of 5,000 barrels, or 210,000 gallons, a day.
Independent scientists estimate that the renegade wellhead at the bottom of the Gulf could be spewing up to 25,000 barrels a day. If chokeholds on the riser pipe break down further, up to 50,000 barrels a day could be released, according to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration memo obtained by the Mobile, Ala., Press-Register.
CNN quotes the lead government official responding to the spill - the commandant of the Coast Guard, Admiral Thad Allen - as stating:
If we lost a total well head, it could be 100,000 barrels or more a day.
Indeed, an environmental document filed by the company running the oil drilling rig - BP - estimates the maximum as 162,000 barrels a day:
In an exploration plan and environmental impact analysis filed with the federal government in February 2009, BP said it had the capability to handle a “worst-case scenario” at the Deepwater Horizon site, which the document described as a leak of 162,000 barrels per day from an uncontrolled blowout — 6.8 million gallons each day.
Today, a Purdue University mechanical engineering professor - Steven Wereley - testified to the House Committee on Commerce and Energy that 95,000 barrels a day are currently leaking into the Gulf. That's 3,990,000 gallons - just shy of 4 million gallons - per day.