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Deeper and Deeper


Niraj Chokshi runs the numbers on the amount of oil in the Gulf of Mexico:

Calculations based on the BP and government estimates reveal that somewhere between 0.94 and 1.48 percent of the Macondo reservoir has been depleted.

Tulane University Professor Eric Smith cautions that the 50 million barrel figure is not a terribly good estimate, though. BP's well was a preliminary "discovery well," said Smith, who is also an associate director at the Tulane Energy Institute. And calculating the amount of oil in the reservoir is difficult: "it's a geometry problem to define what the enclosed volume is."

Left unattended, the Macondo prospect would fully deplete because the pool of oil sits under the weight of thousands of feet of ocean and rock, he said: "The earth is providing the pressure."

Paul Kedrosky provides the above graph on depth of oil rigs. TPM takes a closer look at the last major spill in the gulf:

The Mexican company running the Ixtoc I rig attempted a slew of now-familiar remedies --- they pumped mud into the well, capped it with a metal "sombrero," shot lead balls into the well and drilled relief wells -- but it took 10 months to stop the leak even though the drilling was taking place just 160 feet below the surface.

The Deepwater Horizon, which blew on April 20, was drilling 5,000 feet underwater.