4 billion barrels = 84 billion gallons

I reported hearsay supposedly from a BP insider that the oil field that BP drilled into before it exploded contained 1.8 billion gallons of oil.

It’s apparently much, MUCH worse. Here’s a New York Times article from last September:

BP announced on Wednesday the discovery of what it characterized as a giant oil field several miles under the Gulf of Mexico, but it may take years to assess how much crude can actually be recovered…

The discovery, called the Tiber well, is about 250 miles southeast of Houston at a depth of more than 35,000 feet — greater than the height of Mount Everest — and well below the gulf floor…

BP officials say the oil and gas in the field is extremely hot and under intense pressure, requiring advanced well heads with thick steel and heavy insulation.

BP declined to estimate the size of the new reserve, but a company executive said that it could be bigger than the three billion barrels of oil equivalent, combining oil and gas stocks, thought to be in the recently discovered Kaskida field nearby.

If this is the oil field BP just drilled into, it’s approximately 4 billion BARRELS, not 1.8 billion GALLONS. That’s a major problem because one barrel of oil equals 42 gallons of oil. (Interestingly, those 42 gallons of oil get processed into a variety of outputs, most notably 19.5 gallons of gasoline, 9.2 gallons of home heating oil and diesel fuel, and 4 gallons of jet fuel.)

4 billion barrels of oil = 82 billion gallons of oil! That’s the size of the monster threatening to kill the Gulf (and poison the Atlantic).

But don’t cry. The U.S. government capped BP’s liability at $75 million, so they’ll be fine. Given its liability protection, it’s no wonder BP didn’t waste $500,000 on a stupid acoustic switch that might have allowed BP to remotely shut off the well even after its rig exploded.

Posted by James on Thursday, May 13, 2010