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Gulf oil spill: Cap boosts oil collection to 10,000 barrels

June 6, 2010 |  9:39 am
The commander of the federal government’s response to the gulf oil spill said Sunday that the containment cap collected 10,000 barrels of oil gushing from the sea floor in its second day of operation, up from 6,000 barrels.  
U.S. Coast Guard Adm Thad Allen, in an interview on the ABC news show "This Week," said engineers are slowly raising production and agreed with an assessment from BP chief executive Tony Hayward that the containment effort could eventually collect a majority of the oil "if it's operating properly."
"We're not going to know how much oil is going to come out until we are able to optimize production and that is what they are doing right now," Allen said. "They are slowly raising production."
Before the containment cap, a government task force estimated the flow rate from the well to be between 12,000 and 25,000 barrels of oil daily. The containment cap, the latest in a string of efforts to cope with the massive spill, is funneling oil and gas to a ship about a mile above the wellhead.

“We’re making the right progress,” Allen said on CNN's "State of the Union with Candy Crowley." But he cautioned that much remains to be done. “I don’t think anyone should be pleased as long as there’s oil in the water.”

A permanent solution is still months away. BP is drilling two relief wells that will ultimately plug the leak in August at the earliest.

Allen said that BP has much more work to do to stop the oil from reaching marshes and beaches along the Gulf Coast and pay claims from affected Gulf Coast residents. “It’s got to get better,” he said of BP's response on "Fox News Sunday."

Allen also acknowledged that the federal government still does not have enough boats to skim oil from thousands of square miles of the Gulf of Mexico. “There will always be an unmet demand,” Allen said on ABC’s “This Week,” noting the massive reach of the spill that includes pockets of oil stretching from the Louisiana marshes to beaches in Florida.

Both BP and the federal government are facing criticism for not moving forcefully or quickly enough to contain the environmental disaster.

But two governors along the Gulf Coast, Republican Haley Barbour of Mississippi and Independent Charlie Crist of Florida, said Sunday that the Coast Guard has responded to their pleas for help.

At the same time, Barbour strongly criticized the Obama administration’s plans to impose a six-month moratorium on new offshore drilling, warning that oil companies would permanently move production overseas, making the country even more dependent on foreign oil.

“If you shut this down, don’t kid yourself, you’re not shutting this down for six months,” Barbour said on Fox News Sunday. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, also a Republican, has leveled similar criticism at the moratorium.

-- Noam N. Levey, reporting from Washington