New Orleans, Louisiana – It’s now four days since the BP oil well in the Gulf of Mexico had been capped, the federal coordinator advised on Monday that responders should not get ahead of themselves with the idea that the well has stopped leaking permanently . “With an operation like this, your biggest enemy is complacency,” said Coast Guard Rear Adm. Paul Zukunft.
BP will continue testing on the capped well until 4 p.m. ET, officials said Monday. On Sunday, Thad Allen, the federal government’s oil spill response director, said that testing had revealed a “seep a distance from the well.”
BP chief operating officer Doug Suttles had dismissed the gas as “a few bubbles” as he touted “encouraging signs” that would allow the new cap to remain on indefinitely.
“In two different locations we’ve seen a few bubbles. This is not uncommon but clearly it’s important that we check everything very closely so we’re monitoring that,” Suttles said.
The firm has pledged to monitor the sea floor for signs of a new leak closely. On Monday, Coast Guard Adm Paul Zukunft said: “We’ve had no indication of oil being released at the site.” After installing a new cap, BP has been doing pressure tests to see if the well can be kept shut.
Adm Allen has said that if methane was found to be seeping from the sea floor, this might mean oil was also leaking. He has ordered BP to submit a plan to reopen the well in case oil is still leaking. This would allow the crude to be piped to the surface. BP says it would take three days to start this process. If the cap was reopened, the daily leakage of tens of thousands of barrels of oil could resume.
But the federal government said Monday it had received satisfactory answers from BP regarding the seep, so testing of the well could proceed.
Allen said Monday that a federal science team and BP representatives had discussed several issues during a Sunday night conference call, including the seep and “possible observation of methane over the well.”
“During the conversation, the federal science team got the answers they were seeking and the commitment from BP to meet their monitoring and notification obligations,” Allen said in a statement.