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BP spill may go on for 2 years

BP’s out-of-control well will go on spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico for the next two years or more if all attempts to contain or plug the gusher fail, oil industry experts said.

business Updated: Jun 20, 2010 22:37 IST

BP’s out-of-control well will go on spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico for the next two years or more if all attempts to contain or plug the gusher fail, oil industry experts said.

The estimates, based on figures supplied by BP Chief Executive Officer Tony Hayward, during his testimony to the Congress, suggest the potential environmental and economic devastation would far outstrip the damage done so far by the ruptured well.

The reservoir still held 50m barrels, Hayward said.

Using the government’s present flow estimates of up to 60,000 barrels a day, BP’s well could go on gushing for two to four years, unless it is stopped.

BP and the administration said the company was containing a rising share of the oil from the well, and hope to plug the gusher completely by August

The consequences of failure are enormous.

“If it went uncontrolled it could certainly leak for two years and certainly longer than that, said Philip Johnson, professor, petroleum engineering, University of Alabama.

However, the 50m figure took industry insiders by surprise. There have been reports that the reservoir held up to 500m barrels. “500m barrels would be a more likely estimate,” said Tadeusz Patzek, chairman, department of petroleum, University of Texas.

A BP spokesmen said that the figure referred to recoverable oil rather than the total size of the reservoir. “We haven’t made an assessment of the reserves as far as I know.”