A British Petroleum executive confirmed today that the company is not trying to salvage its oil well as it attempts to stop the flow of crude that is leaking into the Gulf of Mexico at a rate of approximately 5,000 barrels a day.
BP's chief operating officer Doug Suttles said on CBS' "The Early Show" that Sunday's successful attachment of a mile-long pipe into one of the leaks is catching about 20% of the well's flow.
"As of this morning, we think we're getting a little over 1,000 barrels a day up into the drill ship Enterprise," he told anchor Maggie Rodriguez.
He admitted that while that isn't enough to stop the spreading oil leak (and scientists have found massive plumes of oil under the Gulf's surface, some measuring 10 miles in length), Suttles said it was good progress.
"This attempt is about containing the flow and keeping it from getting onto the sea and it's making some progress. And what we'll continue to do over the next 24 hours is try to increase that rate and capture more and more of that flow. And later this week, hopefully before the end of the week, we'll make our next attempt to actually stop the flow and that's going to be this option we're referring to as 'top kill.'"
Special Section: Disaster in the Gulf
Oil Spill by the Numbers
Engineers will shoot heavy mud into the crippled blowout preventer at the well head in the hope it will seal the leak permanently.
When asked by Rodriguez if BP is trying to save the well for possible further development in the future, or is willing to destroy the well if necessary to stop the leak, Suttles said, "We would do anything to stop this leak. And, no, we're not trying to preserve this well. This well will be abandoned when we're finished. It will be filled up with cement and it will never produce.
"Our purpose here is actually get this thing stopped and we'd do anything to do that, and we're pursuing every option that we have available to us to do that."
When asked to respond to Sunday's 60 Minutes" report in which a survivor of the April 20 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig alleged that BP neglected safety while exerting pressure on employees to drill the well quickly, Suttles said his focus is on containing the leak.
"You know, Maggie, I think I've said many times that all I've done since two hours after this incident began is work on the response," Suttles said. "There are a lot of people working on investigations and I know they'll find out what happened here. I know they'll find out what went wrong and I know they'll recommend changes. But my focus, and I think what everyone in this region wants me to do, is figure out how to stop this flow and actually how to minimize the impact that's occurring out there."
When asked specifically if allegations that BP skimped on safety at the rig were untrue, Suttles said, "I think we should actually let the investigations finish up. We should let them find what they find. There's a lot of those going on. The government's got several of those, we have our own. And I'm confident they'll get to the bottom of this and we need to let them do that.
"In the meantime, we need to figure out how to get this thing stopped, how do we capture as much of that oil offshore and how do we minimize the shoreline impacts and that's what I'm focused on."
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