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Team: Much more oil gushing from well than thought

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HOUSTON – Researchers studying the flow of oil from the blown-out well at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico said Thursday that up to twice the amount of oil previously thought may have been spewing into the sea since an oil rig exploded nearly two months ago. The new figures could mean anywhere from 42 million to more than 100 million gallons of oil have already fouled the fragile waters, affecting people who live, work and play along the coast from Louisiana to Florida — and perhaps beyond. It is the third — and perhaps not last — time the federal government has had to increase its estimate of how much oil is gushing. Trying to clarify what has been a contentious and confusing issue, federal officials on Thursday gave a wide variety of estimates. All of the new spill rate estimates are worse than earlier ones — and far more costly for BP, which has seen its stock sink since the April 20 explosion that killed 11 workers and triggered the spill. Most of Thursday's estimates had more oil flowing in an hour than what officials once said was spilling in an entire day.

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