Analyst Puts BP Gulf Oil Spill Into Perspective
by: Davd Pitman, May 19, 2010 3:05:00 pm
Paul JJ Payack is the President and self-described Chief Word Analyst at the Global Language Monitor in Austin. His job is to look at the use of language in the media.
"When we see a story where people are talking about things over and over again, and it starts having a narrative on its own, there are all these things that aren't quantified. And what we try to do is find out what the reality is behind the story and go from there."
Each barrel of oil contains 42 gallons, which can be refined into about 19 gallons of gasoline, depending on the grade of the crude. Payack says the question he wanted to answer is how much energy is being lost if the BP estimate of 5,000 barrels a day is what's actually coming out of the well.
"And it turns out that you get about enough to have 5,000 cars go 390 miles."
Or, put another way, that's 5,000 cars making a one-way trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco, assuming those cars get at least 20 miles per gallon. Payack says the claim by the CEO of BP that the spill is a drop in the bucket in relation to the capacity of the oceans may strike some as condescending, but it's not true. It's actually less than a drop — at under one part per million.