Feds: Oil Cap Can Stay Closed Despite Seep

Dispute on monitoring settled after testy letter from Thad Allen

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Jul 19, 2010 7:49 AM CDT

(Newser) – The federal government said this morning BP can keep the cap shut tight on its busted Gulf of Mexico oil well for another day despite a seep in the sea floor after the company promised to watch closely for signs of new leaks underground, settling for the moment a rift between BP and the government. The Obama administration's point man for the spill, retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, said government scientists had gotten the answers they wanted about how BP is monitoring the seabed around the mile-deep well, which has stopped gushing oil into the water since the experimental cap was closed Thursday.

Late Sunday, Allen said a seep had been detected a distance from the busted oil well and demanded in a sharply worded letter that BP step up monitoring of the ocean floor. Allen didn't say what was coming from the seep. White House energy adviser Carol Browner told the CBS Early Show the seep was found less than two miles from the well site. The concern all along—since pressure readings on the cap weren't as high as expected—was a leak elsewhere in the well bore, meaning the cap may have to be reopened to prevent the environmental disaster from becoming even worse and harder to fix.

Vessels assisting in the capping of the Deepwater Horizon oil wellhead leak are seen past crew members on the Pacific Responder oil skimming vessel on the Gulf of Mexico near the coast of Louisiana Friday, July 16, 2010.
Vessels assisting in the capping of the Deepwater Horizon oil wellhead leak are seen past crew members on the Pacific Responder oil skimming vessel on the Gulf of Mexico near the coast of Louisiana Friday,...   (Patrick Semansky)
Smoke rises from a controlled burn of contained oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil well leak on the Gulf of Mexico near the coast of Louisiana Friday, July 16, 2010.
Smoke rises from a controlled burn of contained oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil well leak on the Gulf of Mexico near the coast of Louisiana Friday, July 16, 2010.   (Patrick Semansky)
Ships pulling oil boom pass vessels assisting in the capping of the Deepwater Horizon oil wellhead on the Gulf of Mexico near the coast of Louisiana Friday, July 16, 2010.
Ships pulling oil boom pass vessels assisting in the capping of the Deepwater Horizon oil wellhead on the Gulf of Mexico near the coast of Louisiana Friday, July 16, 2010.   (Patrick Semansky)
  (W. Castello)
Worshippers sing hymns during a sunrise service at a beach pavilion in Gulf Shores, Ala., Sunday, July 18, 2010. About 100 people gathered to pray for people, wildlife and to end the Deepwater Horizon oil spill crisis in the Gulf of Mexico.
Worshippers sing hymns during a sunrise service at a beach pavilion in Gulf Shores, Ala., Sunday, July 18, 2010. About 100 people gathered to pray for people, wildlife and to end the Deepwater Horizon...   (Dave Martin)
Oil cleanup workers skim for oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Perdido Pass in Orange Beach, Ala., during a heavy rain storm Sunday, July 18, 2010.
Oil cleanup workers skim for oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Perdido Pass in Orange Beach, Ala., during a heavy rain storm Sunday, July 18, 2010.   (Dave Martin)
Vessels assisting in the capping of the Deepwater Horizon oil wellhead are seen on the Gulf of Mexico near the coast of Louisiana Friday, July 16, 2010.
Vessels assisting in the capping of the Deepwater Horizon oil wellhead are seen on the Gulf of Mexico near the coast of Louisiana Friday, July 16, 2010.   (Patrick Semansky)
Dan Hanson and his wife Debbie of Fairhope, Ala., pray as they join others in a sunrise service at a beach pavilion in Gulf Shores, Ala., Sunday, July 18, 2010. About 100 people gathered to pray for people, wildlife and to end the Deepwater Horizon oil spill crisis in the...
Dan Hanson and his wife Debbie of Fairhope, Ala., pray as they join others in a sunrise service at a beach pavilion in Gulf Shores, Ala., Sunday, July 18, 2010. About 100 people gathered to pray for people,...   (Dave Martin)
Elaine Richardson of Daphne, Ala., holds her granddaughter Makiah, 7, as she joins others in prayer at a sunrise service at a beach pavilion in Gulf Shores, Ala., Sunday, July 18, 2010. About 100 people gathered to pray for people, wildlife and to end the Deepwater Horizon oil spill crisis...
Elaine Richardson of Daphne, Ala., holds her granddaughter Makiah, 7, as she joins others in prayer at a sunrise service at a beach pavilion in Gulf Shores, Ala., Sunday, July 18, 2010. About 100 people...   (Dave Martin)
Henry Barnes of Bayou La Batre, Ala., prays as he joins others in a sunrise service at a beach pavilion in Gulf Shores, Ala., Sunday, July 18, 2010. About 100 people gathered to pray for people, wildlife and to end the Deepwater Horizon oil spill crisis in the Gulf of...
Henry Barnes of Bayou La Batre, Ala., prays as he joins others in a sunrise service at a beach pavilion in Gulf Shores, Ala., Sunday, July 18, 2010. About 100 people gathered to pray for people, wildlife...   (Dave Martin)
Oil cleanup workers skim for oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Perdido Pass in Orange Beach, Ala., during a heavy rain storm Sunday, July 18, 2010.
Oil cleanup workers skim for oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Perdido Pass in Orange Beach, Ala., during a heavy rain storm Sunday, July 18, 2010.   (Dave Martin)
Charles Stewart of Elberta,  Ala., prays as he joins others in a sunrise service at a beach pavilion in Gulf Shores, Ala., Sunday, July 18, 2010. About 100 people gathered to pray for people, wildlife and to end the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Charles Stewart of Elberta, Ala., prays as he joins others in a sunrise service at a beach pavilion in Gulf Shores, Ala., Sunday, July 18, 2010. About 100 people gathered to pray for people, wildlife...   (Dave Martin)
Oil cleanup workers skim for oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Perdido Pass in Orange Beach, Ala., during a heavy rain storm Sunday, July 18, 2010.
Oil cleanup workers skim for oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Perdido Pass in Orange Beach, Ala., during a heavy rain storm Sunday, July 18, 2010.   (Dave Martin)
In this image taken from video provided by BP PLC at 22:19 CDT, the containment stack is shown at the site of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico Sunday, July 18, 2010. BP and the Obama administration offered significantly differing views Sunday on whether the...
In this image taken from video provided by BP PLC at 22:19 CDT, the containment stack is shown at the site of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico Sunday, July 18, 2010. BP and the Obama...   (Anonymous)
A green sea turtle, rescued by NOAA sea turtle experts in the Gulf of Mexico, is to be transported to the Audubon Institute for rehabilitation, Venice, La., Friday, July 16, 2010.
A green sea turtle, rescued by NOAA sea turtle experts in the Gulf of Mexico, is to be transported to the Audubon Institute for rehabilitation, Venice, La., Friday, July 16, 2010.   (CHERYL GERBER)
Oil cleanup workers skim for oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Perdido Pass in Orange Beach, Ala., during a heavy rain storm Sunday, July 18, 2010.
Oil cleanup workers skim for oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Perdido Pass in Orange Beach, Ala., during a heavy rain storm Sunday, July 18, 2010.   (Dave Martin)
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Engineers monitoring BP's damaged well detected seepage on the ocean floor that could mean problems with the cap that has stopped oil from gushing into the Gulf of Mexico. Deborah Gembara reports.   (Reuters)

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