New leaks in Gulf well

Houston Chronicle:

BP said Wednesday night that a third leak has developed in an undersea oil well and government officials raised their estimate of how much oil is leaking into a growing slick that threatens the Gulf Coast.

Rear Adm. Mary Landry, commander of U.S. Coast Guard District 8, said the government has offered BP access to Defense Department technology that may not be available in the commercial sector in its efforts to address the increasingly serious spill resulting from a deadly drilling rig explosion last week.

Earlier Wednesday, the Coast Guard set fire to portions of the advancing slick, hoping to limit the amount of crude that reaches this particularly vulnerable coastline.

The new leak is near the wellhead 5,000 feet down, and like the other two, is in a now-tangled pipe called a riser that connected the well to the rig on the surface.

Officials have been estimating the well is leaking at least 1,000 barrels, or 42,000 gallons, every day, but on Wednesday night raised the top range to 5,000 barrels.

Doug Suttles, chief operating officer of BP exploration and production, said at an evening news conference that the oil company does not believe the new leak has increased the flow greatly, but acknowledged “there is no way to put a meter on this flow rate.”

A 1,000-member task force with the British oil giant has so far failed to stanch the flow.


Yesterday I suggested that we need to use defense department resources and it appears that that idea is being accepted. The situation is serious enough that the cost can certainly be justified. It can also lead to increased technology that will be helpful in future blowouts. They need to be able to shut off the flow and they need tools that can access the well head. Until they can do that it is possible that other leaks will occur in the tangled mess of pipes below the surface.


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