Gulf Well Could Contain a Billion Barrels of Oil

The Discoverer Enterprise, center, assists at the site of the Deepwater Horizon oil leakover the Gulf of Mexico off of the Louisiana coast, June 15, 2010. AP Photo

The oil well spewing in the Gulf of Mexico could contain as much as 1 billion barrels of oil and could keep flowing for more than a decade, the Times of London reported.

The Macondo oil well could be one of the largest oil discoveries in the world.

Special Section: Disaster in the Gulf

Rick Mueller, an oil industry expert at Energy Security Analysis, in Massachusetts, said that the well's powerful flow rate, which has been estimated by the government at up to 60,000 barrels a day and shows no sign of slowing down, suggested that the well could be far bigger than previously thought, the Times reported.

BP previously estimated that the field contained 50 million to 100 million barrels of oil.

A company spokesman told the Times that BP engineers had been unable to determine the size of the field because they had not completed the relevant tests before the explosion on April 20.

The Times wrote that if the Macondo field is larger than BP initially claimed it could have a dual significance for the company. The well could keep flowing at a rapid rate for many months or years, but it could also be highly valuable in the long term. However, BP is unlikely to return to the well for a number of years. The company is set to begin selling assets to help fund the $20 billion escrow account it agreed to set up for compensating victims.

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