100,000 Barrels of Oil, How Much is That?

British Petroleum (BP) internal memos released this weekend estimate that, in a worst case scenario, there may be as much as 100,000 barrels of oil a day spilling into the Gulf from the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig. Previous estimates have placed the spill in the 35,000-65,000 barrels per day range.

In addition, Tyrone Benton, an oil worker who survived the Deepwater Horizon explosion, said over the weekend that he had informed both BP and Transocean, the rig’s owner, about a leak on the rig’s safety device weeks before the blast occurred. He said that the safety device, which is called a blow-out preventer, was switched off rather than repaired.

“We saw a leak on the pod (and) we informed the company,” Mr Benton said. “They have a control room where they could turn off that pod and turn on the other one, so that they don’t have to stop production.”

Benton did not know if the blow-out preventer had been turned back on prior to the explosion which produced the current leak BP is trying to fix.

Plus a federal judge has blocked President Obama’s moratorium on deepwater drilling. Federal judge Martin Feldman in Louisiana granted the oil drillers’ request for a preliminary restraining order that would prevent the Obama’s moratorium from taking effect until a trial is held.

The White House immediately said it would file an appeal.

Back to the 100,000 barrels, here is the problem with an estimate of 100,000 barrels per day: who can possibly imagine how much oil that is? That much oil spewing into the ocean is beyond imagination for most of us.

So how much is 100,000 barrels of oil?

In the wall of oil photo below, it is said that there are 13,000 barrels in the photograph.


It would take eight times the number of barrels in the photo to reach 100,000 barrels. Imagine that much oil, if you can, leaking into the Gulf every single day.

In the video below, a physicist created the images of 25,000 oil barrels stacked up around a pillar 15,000 feet high and those same barrels falling to the ground in a huge pile.

100,000 barrels of oil would equal four piles of oil barrels. Those four piles are spilling into the Gulf every day. 6.3 million barrels of oil would be the total amount of oil that has so far spewed into the Gulf since the Deepwater Horizon explosion on April 20, 2010.

It would take 252 piles of oil barrels in the video to equal the amount of oil recklessly tossed into the sea by BP so far. Can that much spilled oil ever be completely cleaned up?

Another number difficult to imagine is the $20 billion BP has been forced to place in a trust account to pay for the oil clean-up. Billion dollar numbers are thrown around constantly in this day and age, but has anyone ever really imagined how much $20 billion is?


The above photo of $5 billion in gold bullion was taken at one of the Federal Reserve Banks. The $20 billion needed to pay for the oil spill would require four such rooms filled with gold–another picture that is almost impossible for the mind to imagine.

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