Pressure readings from a new containment cap that stopped the flow of oil from BP's broken wellhead indicate there could be a leak down in the well, the U.S. government's point man on the disaster says.
Developments were "generally good news" but close monitoring must continue, retired coast guard admiral Thad Allen said on a conference call.
Engineers continue to look for evidence of leaks as pressure readings from the cap are examined, Allen said.
He said scientists believe the pressure levels could indicate that the reservoir — the source of the oil — is depleting after a three-month spill or that there's a leak somewhere down in the well.
"We don't know because we don't know the exact condition of the well bore," Allen said...
The pressure in the oil column never rose. So the deep well is compromised, and seeping. Which could be a problem, particularly if there is a major side blowout into the seabed. So, yesterday apparently Allen told BP to prepare to open the cap again.
Thad Allen, the U.S. official in charge of the response to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, ordered BP Plc to prepare for reopening the company’s Macondo well after a “seep” was detected.
Allen said a “seep” was found “a distance” from the well and anomalies had been observed at the well head, in a letter sent today to BP Chief Managing Director Bob Dudley that was posted on a government website about the spill.
“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,” Allen wrote.
Three days of tests on the capped well showed no signs that would prompt BP to reopen the well, Doug Suttles, chief operating officer for exploration and production for BP, said earlier today in a conference call from Houston...
We'll see about that.