BP shares fall as seep detected in well

The company says it has spent nearly $4 billion on the oil spill.

By Elizabeth Strott Jul 19, 2010 9:11AM

Still from underwater video of new containment cap at the site of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico (© Reuters)Updated at 5:24 p.m. ET


Shares of BP (BP) fell 3.6% to $35.75 today as worries grew about seepage from the company's capped Gulf of Mexico oil well.


Retired Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen wrote a letter late Sunday to chief managing director Bob Dudley, saying that a "seep" was detected in the Macondo well, along with "undetermined anomalies at the well head."

This morning, Allen, the national incident commander, said in a statement that BP agreed to monitor the leak, which allowed the company to keep the well closed for an additional 24 hours. Allen also said there is evidence of methane, or natural gas, over the well. 


"I authorized BP to continue the integrity test for another 24 hours, and I restated our firm position that this test will only continue if they continue to meet their obligations to rigorously monitor for any signs that this test could worsen the overall situation," Allen said in a statement. "Full analysis of both the seepage and methane will continue in coordination with the science team."

Allen asked BP for written instructions about reopening the well should the seepage problem worsen.

"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," Allen wrote late Sunday. 

Allen said that the drilling of a relief well, which is expected in the first part of August, should continue to be the main option to stop the gushing well. A relief well would permanently kill the spill by flooding it with cement.

BP said that if a seep is confirmed, the cap will be lifted and oil will be able to flow to the surface.

The company capped the leaking well Thursday, the first time oil was not spewing from the well since April 20, when a blast on the Deepwater Horizon rig killed 11 workers and caused the rig to sink and dump hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil into the Gulf.

The oil giant said it continued to run an integrity test on the well. 

BP this morning said that it has spent $3.95 billion so far related to the leaking well and that it aims to permanently kill the well leak in the first half of August.



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