BP hopes to carry out a crucial test later today in final preparation for sealing the ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico, which scientists agreed last night has been responsible for the worst accidental oil spill in history.
Nearly 5m barrels of oil have gushed into the ocean since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and sank in April, according to federal scientists. That makes the spill larger than the 3.3m barrels released into Mexico's Bay of Campeche when the Ixtoc I oil rig suffered a catastrophic blowout in 1979.
At its peak, the BP well was spewing 62,000 barrels a day, according to the federal team, which is higher than the original worst-case scenario of 60,000. But by the time that BP was able to cap the well last month that figure had dropped to 53,000 a day, The Guardian reports.
BP siphoned off an additional 800,000 barrels from when the well exploded on April 20 to when it was capped on July 15, the U.S. government-appointed group said yesterday in its latest estimate of the worst oil spill in U.S. history.
The Macondo spill exceeds the 3.3 million barrels that the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences estimated leaked from Mexico’s Ixtoc-1 well in the Bay of Campeche after a blowout in 1979.
The world’s worst spill was in the 1991 Persian Gulf War when retreating Iraqi forces opened oil pumps, causing the release of 6 million barrels, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, according to Bloomberg.