BP has been granted permission to
keep the cap on its damaged Gulf of Mexico oil well shut for another day,
despite a seep in the sea floor, after the company promised to watch closely
for signs of new leaks underground.
US Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen
said that government scientists were satisfied that BP was
monitoring the seabed around the mile-deep well, which has stopped gushing oil
since the experimental cap was closed on Thursday.
However, a seep was detected near
the ruptured oil well, and BP have come under pressure to prove that they were
still monitoring the site.
With pressure readings on the cap
being lower than expected, there was mounting concern that the cap was leaking,
meaning that the cap may have to be reopened to prevent the environmental
disaster from becoming even worse and harder to fix. An underground leak could
let oil and gas escape uncontrolled through bedrock and mud.
“I direct you to provide me a
written procedure for opening the choke valve as quickly as possible without
damaging the well should hydrocarbon seepage near the well head be confirmed,”
Mr Allen said in a letter to BP Managing Director Bob Dudley.
BP PLC said that the cost of dealing with the oil
spill has now reached nearly $4 billion.
The company said it has made
payments totalling $207 million to settle individual claims for damages from
the spill along the southern coast of the United States.
To date, almost 116,000 claims have
been submitted and more than 67,500 payments have been made.