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Gulf oil spill: No serious problems with cap

July 19, 2010 |  2:43 pm

The government has given BP the go-ahead to keep its well sealed for at least another day after concluding that there are no serious problems with the capping operation that has stopped the flow of oil into the gulf.

Although Thad Allen, the national incident commander, said Monday afternoon several "anomalies" had been detected, including a small leak in the cap seal, none were of great concern.

A seep about two miles from the wellhead is probably not related and a leak in the cap flange is not consequential. “There is no indication at this time ... of a significant problem in the well bore,” Allen said.

Allen also said scientists are discussing the possibility of using the cap to attempt another "top kill," in which drilling mud would be injected into the damaged well to plug it at the wellhead. An earlier attempt to do that was abandoned when the upward push of oil and gas proved too great to overcome.

But the cap has created a closed system with back pressure that could make it easier to pump drilling mud into the hole, Allen said.

Still, he emphasized that questions remain about conditions of the deep-sea well and circumstances could quickly change.

“It would be very premature to say the well is shut in,” he said, adding that work continues on the relief wells that will be the ultimate fix.

--Bettina Boxall