BP is challenging the U.S. government’s estimates of how much oil flowed from the runaway well below the Gulf of Mexico which could reduce the federal pollution fines it faces for the largest offshore oil spill in history by billions.
BP’s is arguing that the government overstated the spill by 20 to 50 percent. In a 10-page document, BP says the government’s spill estimate of 206 million gallons is “overstated by a significant amount” and the company said that there is no real consensus about the number.
The company submitted the document to the Justice Department and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
“They rely on incomplete or inaccurate information, rest in large part on assumptions that have not been validated, and are subject to far greater uncertainties than have been acknowledged,” BP wrote. “BP fully intends to present its own estimate as soon as the information is available to get the science right.”
In a statement release, the company said the government’s estimates failed to account for equipment that could obstruct the flow of oil and gas, making its numbers “highly unreliable.”
BP’s request could save it as much as $10.5 billion, depending on factors such as whether the government concludes that BP acted negligently. President Barack Obama has said he wants Congress to set aside some of the money BP pays for fines for the Gulf’s coastal restoration. Louisiana lawmakers are pushing legislation that would require at least 80 percent of the civil and criminal penalties charged to BP, and possibly other companies, to be returned to the Gulf Coast.