Gulf of Mexico – After conducting an analysis of hydrocarbon seepage from the sea floor less approximately two miles from the BP oil well, scientists have concluded the seepage may be from a naturally occurring methane release.
In addition, it appears at least for now that leaks from the well cap are not “consequential,” according to incident commander Admiral Thad Allen of the United States Coast Guard.
The Washington Post reported Tuesday that there is seepage occurring in four places at BP’s well and cap, however integrity testing has been approved by the government to continue up to another 24 hours.
Though the well leaks may form hydrate crystals which could hamper future containment siphoning, Admiral Allen stated of the leaks, “We do not believe this is consequential at this time.”
Concerning the sea floor seepage, BP spokesperson Mark Proegler remarked, “Scientists have concluded that the seep was naturally occurring.” Though still not completely ruled out of possibility, there had been concern that the well may have damaged the sea floor creating multiple fissures which would leak oil and methane for year to come.
Backing Proegler’s assessment, MSNBC News reported that Louisiana State University biological oceanographer Robert Carney added, “You have little bubbles rising up from the bottom frequently; that’s the methane gas. Oil would be a little black dot, more difficult to see. But both escape into the water regularly.”
Still, no answer has been forthcoming from BP as to why the pressure has not risen in the well as expected. Such a lack of a rise in pressure may suggest more leaking elsewhere from within the well system than has appeared thus far at the wellhead, or it may just be that BP was wrong on their analysis of the pressure within the well.
BP is still advocating keeping the cap closed until the relief well is connected; however, Admiral Allen warned that too much is still unknown, exclaiming “I’m not prepared to say the well is shut in until the relief well is done. There are too many uncertainties.”
In response to the past few days of division between the government and BP on how to proceed, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs stated on Monday, “We had some concerns, I think as you heard, over the past 24 hours about commitments that BP had made that we did not feel that they were adequately living up to in terms of that monitoring. That was dealt with last night on a call that lasted late into the evening where we believe that we’re getting the type of overall monitoring, particularly the seismic and the monitoring with the remotely operated vehicle, so that we can look at each of these different steps.”