Apparent oxygen utilisation is potentially biased by abiotic, physical processes. Using a coupled 3-D circulation-oxygen model, this potential is quantitatively estimated for a region in the eastern subtropical North Atlantic, called the Beta Triangle, where an inconsistency exists between observational estimates of high carbon export from the euphotic zone, based on oxygen utilisation rates in the thermocline (Jenkins 1982), and those of low nutrient supply to the euphotic zone (Lewis et al. 1986, 2004). Our results indicate that in the upper ocean, the Jenkins (1982) estimate is indeed biased high by approximately 10% due to abiotic processes feigning respiration, thus contributing to the apparent inconsistency. Vertical integration, however, yields an abiotic fraction of less than 3%, so the apparent observational discrepancy can not be resolved.