[QODLink]
Americas
'Seep detected' near capped BP well
US government orders plan on reopening cap after engineers detect "anomalies".
Last Modified: 19 Jul 2010 02:27 GMT
The gushing oil has caused massive environmental damage to the Gulf Coast [Reuters]

The US government has ordered BP to submit a plan for reopening its recently capped blown-out oil well to allow oil to flow into the ocean again after engineers detected seepage on the ocean floor near the well.

Thad Allen, the retired coast guard admiral overseeing the government's response to the spill, told Bob Dudley, the BP chief managing director, in a letter on Sunday to report on a "detected seep" and other "anomalies" near the Gulf of Mexico oil.

"Given the current observations from the test, including the detected seep a distance from the well and undetermined anomalies at the well head, monitoring of the seabed is of paramount importance during the test period.

"I direct you to provide me a written procedure for opening the choke valve as quickly as possible without damaging the well should hydrocarbon seepage near the well head be confirmed," he said.

More than three days since BP started using a new, tighter fitting cap to stop the oil from gushing out of the well 1.6km below the surface, the British energy giant said the cap was holding.

in depth

Earlier on Sunday, BP officials had expressed hope that the test of the cap which began Thursday could continue until a relief well being drilled reaches the damaged well and heavy drilling mud and cement is used to seal it more permanently.

Doug Suttles, BP's chief operating officer, told reporters on Sunday that reopening the well would release oil into the Gulf for up to three days even though capture vessels were standing by on the surface to begin processing oil within hours.

"We're hopeful that if the encouraging signs continue that we'll be able to continue the integrity test all the way to the point that we get the well killed," he told reporters before Allen issued his statement.

"Clearly we don't want to reanimate flow into the Gulf if we don't have to."

Before the cap was placed, nearly 10 million litres of oil was spewing into the Gulf every day for nearly three months since BP's rig exploded and sank in late April, according to the US government's worst case projections.

BP was able to siphon some of that oil to ships on the surface but was not able to shut off the flow until fitting the cap on Thursday.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Topics in this article
People
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
As Western stars re-release 1980s charity hit, many Africans say it's a demeaning relic that can do more harm than good.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Tokyo government claims its homeless population has hit a record low, but analysts - and the homeless - beg to differ.
3D printers can cheaply construct homes and could soon be deployed to help victims of catastrophe rebuild their lives.
Featured
Pro-Russia leaders' election in Ukraine's east shows bloody conflict is far from a peaceful resolution.
Critics challenge Canberra's move to refuse visas for West Africans in Ebola-besieged countries.
A key issue for Hispanics is the estimated 11.3 million immigrants in the US without papers who face deportation.
In 1970, only two mosques existed in the country, but now more than 200 offer sanctuary to Japan's Muslims.
Hundreds of the country's reporters eke out a living by finding news - then burying it for a price.