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BP Says Oil Leak Bigger Than Previously Estimated

Oil burns during a controlled fire in the Gulf of Mexico

Oil burns during a controlled fire in the Gulf of Mexico

BP has acknowledged that the amount of oil pouring from its damaged Gulf Of Mexico well is bigger than the British energy giant has previously estimated.

The announcement was made on May 20 as heavy crude from the spill continued to ooze into sensitive wetlands in the state of Louisiana, a haven for birds and rare wildlife -- raising fears that an environmental disaster is under way.

BP had said for weeks that only 5,000 barrels of crude was gushing each day from the undersea pipe that was ruptured when a rig exploded one month ago and sank.

But BP spokesman Mark Proegler said on May 20 that this amount, 5,000 barrels, is now being siphoned away from the leak daily by an insertion tube device.

The spokesman acknowledged that even with the tube in place, live television pictures continue to show a significant quantity of oil still streaming out.

Independent experts have warned the flow could be several times higher than what BP has estimated.

The U.S. government, in a letter to BP on May 20, said the energy company had fallen short in providing information about the spill, and called on the company to conduct all its activities regarding the spill in a transparent manner.

compiled from agency reports