The Deepwater Horizon Disaster and Estimation Techniques

Effective estimation of time, money and other resources is key to effective project management. For that reason it’s interesting to look at best practises, and a hotly debated estimate for the past 2 months is how much oil is flowing from the Deepwater Horizon spill.

A Flow Rate Technical Group has been established to estimate this number and the approach there are taking is detailed here.

Basically, the panel of experts is splitting into sub-groups, using different methods. These estimates will then be combined into one overall estimate.

The methods they are using are:

  • Plume Modelling – looking at video of the oil escaping in the water
  • Mass Balancing – looking at satellite data of the volume of oil on the surface adjusting it for any oil that hasn’t reached or left the surface
  • Reservoir Modelling – analyzing the composition of the oil reservoir under the seabed and determining oil pressure and hence flow rate
  • Nodal Analysis – examining the leak points on the seabed and calculating flow based on that
  • Woods Hole Analysis – using acoustic technologies to collect data close to the leak source

This calculation of numerous estimates using independent techniques is best practise in estimation. As you produce estimates, explore different techniques to create independent estimates, the overall estimate is likely to be more robust as result.

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