BP Oil Spill Day 25: How Much Is Really Leaking?

Following the rig explosion on April 20 BP said about 1,000 barrels of oil a day were leaking into the Gulf of Mexico, an estimate the Coast Guard later raised to 5,000 barrels a day. Now, on day 25, there's speculation that the gusher could be as much as five times as big.

This week British Petroleum released underwater footage of the well pipe and a mixture of gas and oil were seen rushing into the water. By slowing down the video and studying the speed of a single particle, some experts believe the flow could be much larger.

VIDEO: Some experts estimate 50,000 barrels a day could be leaking out of the well.
Gulf Oil Spill: Larger Than We Know?

Oceanographer Ian MacDonald, from Florida State University, told the New York Times that he his analysis showed that the daily spillage could "easily be four or five times" the government's estimate -- or 25,000 barrels.

BP's chief operating officer Doug Suttles pushed back against that claim on "GMA" today, saying it is "almost impossible to get a precise number."

"Ourselves and people from NOAA (National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration) and others believe that something around 5,000 [barrels]…is the best estimate. And we look at that, not only do we look at what is occurring on the sea bed, we look at what is occurring on the surface. And actually we know that on the good weather days when we can apply all of our tools we can actually shrink the size of this spill," Suttles said. "And those are the ways we actually think that is probably a reasonable number but we know it is highly uncertain."

VIDEO: Oil Spill Close Up
BP's Plan for Containing the Oil Leak

If 25,000 barrels a day are rushing into the Gulf, it would the equivalent of one Exxon Valdez spill every 10 days, although the size of the oil slick has not grown noticeably in the last 10 days.

Hans Graber, director of the University of Miami's Center for Southeastern Tropical Advanced Remote Sensing, told The Associated Press that the oil slick is approximately the size of Delaware and Rhode Island combined.

The Latest Attempt to Stop the Leak

Overnight BP began its latest attack on the leak using undersea robots to insert a smaller six-inch pipe inside the broken end of the 21-inch well pipe. If it works a tube will then suck the oil and gas mixture to a ship on the surface of the Gulf that will separate and store it.

"I suspect it will be late this evening before we actually get it fully inserted and hopefully start to contain some of this flow to the seabed," Suttles said. The "best people in the world" are working on a solution and "pushing the very edges of technology," he added.

"I'm sure through all of the investigative work and the work by policy makers that things will probably change," Suttles said. "But right now everything we can do is apply absolutely every resource and every bit of thinking possible to the problem and that's what we're doing."

BP said it has already spent $450 million on the cleanup. While that is a large amount of money, in the first three months this year BP made a profit of $5.6 billion, or $62 million per day. The total cost to the company so far has been seven days' profit.

Will Oil Make Landfall This Weekend?

The forecast tracks from NOAA show that the oil slick is getting closer to land at the Mississippi Delta. But the weather is expected to bring calm seas this weekend and BP said it should be able to resume skimming and burning.

The people along the Gulf coast are "scared" and "worried," Suttles told "GMA."

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