Tim Dickinson at Rollingstone has done some fine and much needed investigative journalism. He reveals that BP and the government anticpated a much higher volume of flow from the first:
From the start of its operation in the Gulf, BP had found itself struggling against powerful “kicks” from gas buildup, just as MMS had warned. Now, on April 20th, the pent-up methane exploded in a fireball that incinerated 11 workers. Like a scene out of a real-life Jerry Bruckheimer film, the half-billion-dollar rig – 32,000 tons and 30 stories tall – listed over and sank to the bottom two days later, taking a mile of pipe down with it.
Within hours, the government assembled a response team at the “war room” of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration in Seattle. The scene, captured by a NOAA cameraman and briefly posted on the agency’s website, provides remarkable insight into the government’s engagement during the earliest hours of the catastrophe, and, more troubling, the role of top administration figures in downplaying its horrific scope.