New Orleans, Louisiana – Yesterday mechanical problem prevented BP from inserting a tube into a ruptured pipe that would help siphon off oil leaking into the Gulf of Mexico, BP official Doug Suttles said Saturday. “We did have to pull it back to surface to make some adjustments so that we could connect it properly to the pipework,” Suttles said. “We expect to begin operation of that equipment overnight tonight. ” The plan is for the mile-long tube to collect the oil and send it to a surface vessel.
The officials said they hoped BP would not seek to rely on a statutory cap on how much oil companies must pay for such leaks. It is not clear what prompted the letter as BP said last week the $75m cap was irrelevant and the firm would pay for all costs and legitimate claims.
US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano noted in a letter on Saturday to BP chief executive Tony Hayward that the firm had repeatedly pledged to assume all costs for the spill. “The public has a right to a clear understanding of BP’s commitment to redress all of the damage that has occurred or that will occur in the future as a result of the oil spill,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said in a letter to Hayward. “Therefore, in the event that our understanding is inaccurate, we request immediate public clarification of BP’s true intentions,” they added.
Scientists aboard a research vessel are finding enormous oil plumes in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, including one as large as 10 miles long, 3 miles wide and 300 feet thick. The discovery is fresh evidence that the leak from the broken undersea well could be substantially worse than estimates that the government and BP have given.
“There’s a shocking amount of oil in the deep water, relative to what you see in the surface water,” said Samantha Joye, a researcher at the University of Georgia who is involved in one of the first scientific missions to gather details about what is happening in the gulf. “There’s a tremendous amount of oil in multiple layers, three or four or five layers deep in the water column.”
The plumes were discovered by scientists from multiple universities working aboard the research vessel Pelican, which sailed from Cocodrie, Louisiana, on May 3 and appears to be the first scientific expedition to gather samples and information regarding the oil disaster.
After studying a video of the gushing oil well, scientists have tentatively calculated that it could be spilling at a rate of 25,000 to 80,000 barrels of oil a day. But the government, using satellite images of the ocean surface, has calculated a flow rate of only 5,000 barrels a day.