Everyone remembers the massive Gulf oil spill starting April 20, 2010 and 87 days of spillage.
As we all watched the pictures from the surface oil slick and the underwater cameras at the well head, it was a tale of two oil spills.
BP: trickle ... => Media: deluge
BP: gallons ... => Media: barrels
But the truth is, no one anywhere believed the BP numbers.
They really had no recovery plan. As this article said, they only had a plan to create a plan, if and when they needed a plan.
Disaster recovery plans for businesses have details that have been well thought through. One page for a wellhead breach under water is not exactly a detailed plan.
The dispersant (Corexit) works at the surface with sunlight and such. However about 45% of the Corexit was used at the well head, resulting in oil that was stuck in limbo half way to the surface. At the surface it can be removed and/or treated.
More importantly, apparently, for BP was that at the surface it can more accurately be MEASURED.
The difference between the 4.2m Barrels by Justice department experts and the 2.45mb by BP is almost half. Of course the BP numbers wrong. Is it more than 4.2mb, probably. Less, probably not.
Additionally, however, the $1,100 penalty max per barrel (~42 gal/brl) would be essentially 4 times that ($4,300/brl) if BP is found negligent.
That's the difference between $18B in fines and about $2.7B (BP's low-ball estimates and the lower fine).
There really is, however, lots of blame to go around. The regulatory agency that rubber-stamped everything oil and mining related has now be disbanded in disgrace. The "plans" were the same for all oil drillers. Everyone was doing the same types of drilling, although maybe not quite the lax monitoring/procedures.
AND the government had a limit on the exposure for drillers in a very cozy relationship with the oil companies. It was a paltry amount... with the official rationale of promoting drilling (and oil independence). Of course, that limitation was immediately revoked.
Can you imagine if BP were a smaller player that simply went bankrupt? The good thing about a BIG company with deep pockets (pun) is that you can make 'em pay, and then keep making them pay.
In the end, the oil industry is a far safer place because of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Here are some lessons learned (and used).