WASHINGTON – Energy giant BP has presented a new plan to contain more than 50,000 barrels a day of oil gushing from a ruptured Gulf of Mexico well by the end of June, an administration official said Monday.
"After being directed by the administration to move more quickly, BP is now stepping up its efforts to contain the leaking oil," the official said on condition of anonymity.
"They have now outlined a path to contain more than 50,000 barrels of oil per day by the end of June, two weeks earlier than they originally suggested," the official said.
The oil company is currently siphoning up about 15,000 barrels of oil a day to a ship on the surface, about half of the 25,000 to 30,000 barrels believed to be streaming into the Gulf.
In a letter, BP outlined plans to bring a vessel for producing and storing oil from South America, two additional tankers from Europe and a 3,800-foot, six-inch flexible pipe from Brazil to reinforce the existing efforts to suck up crude from the leaking well.
The outlines of the plan were produced as President Barack Obama was to depart on his fourth visit to the Gulf since an April 20 explosion destroyed a BP-leased deepwater rig, unleashing the worst oil spill in US history.
Obama is to address the nation in a speech from the Oval Office on his return from the Gulf on Tuesday, the official said.
With new estimates showing that the oil is gushing into the Gulf at a rate double what was previously thought, the administration on Saturday said it had given BP 48 hours to come up with a revised plan to contain the leak.
Under its original plan, BP said it could expand its containment effort to capture between 20,000 to 28,000 barrels a day by mid-June and 20,000 to 50,000 barrels by mid-July.
The revised strategy would increase the capture of oil to a range of 40,000 to 53,000 barrels a day by the end of June, which would grow to 60,000 to 80,000 barrels a day by mid-July, according to the administration official.
However BP cautioned in its letter to Coast Guard Rear Admiral James Watson, "The quoted numbers represent installed design capacities and any unplanned events will impact actual delivery."
The administration official said: "We will continue to hold BP accountable and bring every possible resource and innovation to bear."
© AFP 2013