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

Scientists say the BP spill could be four or five times the estimate.

May 14, 2010— -- 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.

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."

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

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

"What we are doing is we mounted the largest response ever. You know, we've put more boom in the water than has ever been done before. And thankfully, actually so far, very little oil has come ashore. I think partly that is due to our efforts and partly that is due to mother nature," Suttles said.

Following a meeting with senior administration officials and members of his cabinet President Obama criticized oil industry officials for the "ridiculous spectacle" of blaming each other for the oil spill and promised to end the "cozy relationship" between the industry and federal regulators.

This morning on "GMA" Suttles said he thinks the teamwork in fighting the spill has been "unparalleled."

"We each have our unique roles in this process but we each have a common mission which is we want to bring this thing to end as quickly as we can and we want to minimize the impact," Suttles said. "And I couldn't say enough about the great people from the government and in particular the coast guard who we are working with."

Click here to return to the "Good Morning America" Web site.

ABC News' Sunlen Miller, Jake Tapper, Brian Hartman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.