In a statement released shortly before
"During the conversation, the federal science team got the answers they were seeking and the commitment from BP to meet their monitoring and notification obligations," Allen said in a statement. "I authorized BP to continue the integrity test for another 24 hours."
The "integrity test" is how BP and government
officials refer to the sealing of the well last week with a new
containment cap that since Thursday has cut off the flow of oil into
Allen indicated in his statement Monday that he would allow the test to continue "if they (BP) continue to meet their obligations to rigorously monitor for any signs that this test could worsen the overall situation."
No details of the government scientists' concerns were released, and the exact nature of what scientists have discovered remained unclear.
In a letter to BP chief managing director
On Monday, Allen's statement described those observations as "a seep near the well and the possible observation of methane over the well." Bubbles rising from the new containment cap have been visible in live video from the site since last week, but it was unknown if that was the observation Allen referred to. BP officials have said such bubbles are not unusual at deepwater wells and that they have not been able to capture any for analysis.
Government officials have been concerned that the explosion and fire that triggered the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe three months ago may have damaged the well below the seafloor and that closing the containment cap could make matters worse by forcing oil into the rock surrounding the well. Their concerns have been fed by lower than expected pressures in the cap.
BP announced overnight that the pressure, which was 6,778 pounds per square inch Sunday morning, had risen to 6,792 psi by
Allen's statement was his third in 24 hours that indicated tension between government officials and BP over the containment cap test. On Sunday, just a few hours after Dudley had told reporters BP would like to keep the containment cap sealed indefinitely, Allen issued a pointed statement saying that there was no agreement to do that. He followed that with the letter to Dudley in which Allen demanded that BP inform him within four hours if any new leak is discovered and provide a written explanation of its intentions for the containment cap.
(c) 2010, McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.