Tiny Skytruth have been challenging BP’s estimates on how much crude is spilling out of the Macondo well into the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The organisation began analysing satellite & radar data soon after the Deepwater Horizon rig sank on April 22nd. BP initially claimed 1,000 barrels were spilling daily – after Skytruth pointed out that this was a ridiculous underestimate, the company revised the daily rate to 5,000 barrels. Since then, Skytruth have made clear that this is still far lower than the reality, with even 25,000 barrels a day a “rock bottom” figure.

SkyTruth first analyzed satellite and radar data on the spill shortly after the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig sank after a fire April 22. It challenged initial estimates that 1,000 barrels of oil were gushing daily from the wellhead nearly a mile below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, about 130 miles southeast of New Orleans. Federal officials and BP quickly revised the estimated daily rate to 5,000 barrels.

Working out of a West Virginia office, the organisation’s one paid employee and number of volunteers use downloaded satellite imagery from NASA to calcultate the depth of oil & its spread. They then apply standard extrapolation methods from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to calculate the total oil volume.