BP's Bogus Math

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Last week we learned that BP and the Coast Guard's estimate of the volume of oil leaking into the Gulf ? 5,000 barrels per day ? is a joke. Independent scientific analysis solicited by NPR of the lone video of the gushing pipe on the sea floor put the flow of oil at 20,000-to-100,000 barrels per day, with the most rigorous analysis pegging the volume of the spill at 70,000 bpd.

Over the weekend, BP successfully inserted a smaller tube into the gushing pipe and is beginning to suction oil up to a waiting tanker on the surface. That's the good news. But this news is not nearly as rosy a BP is would have us believe.

With epic dishonesty, BP continues to frame the impact of its latest effort in the context of the old, bogus, leak estimate.

Yesterday afternoon, the newswires were abuzz with claims that BP is now capturing one-fifth of the oil gushing from the sea floor.

But the actual volume of oil being recovered is only 1,000 barrels a day. That is to say a mere 1/20th to 1/100th of the oil.

If you want a true lesson in how to spin like an oil executive, watch the beginning of the video below from yesterday's press conference, in which BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles is asked how much of an impact the new suction tube can be expected to have:

"If we could get as much as half or more of the total flow ? so if we could actually see this recovery, say, in excess of 2,000 barrels per day ? we'd all be extraordinarily pleased. I would tell you I'm very pleased to say that we're already capturing over 1,000 barrels per day."

What's more maddening is that an NPR reporter even gets a chance to nail the BP exec on his math in the very next question ? and whiffs completely by changing the topic. Tragic.