Today, this is all over the press. From AP:
A federal official says scientists are concerned about a seep and possible methane near BP’s busted oil well in the Gulf of Mexico
Both could be signs there are leaks in the well that’s been capped off for three days.
The official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Sunday because an announcement about the next steps had not been made yet.
The official is familiar with the spill oversight but would not clarify what is seeping near the well. The official says BP is not complying with the government’s demand for more monitoring.
The Oil Drum has the letter that Admiral Allen wrote to the BP brass:
Dear Mr. Dudley,
My letter to you on July 16, 2010 extended the Well Integrity Test period contingent upon the completion of seismic surveys, robust monitoring for indications of leakage, and acoustic testing by the NOAA vessel PISCES in the immediate vicinity of the well head. Given the current observations from the test, including the detected seep a distance from the well and undetermined anomalies at the well head, monitoring of the seabed is of paramount importance during the test period. As a continued condition of the test, you are required to provide as a top priority access and coordination for the monitoring systems, which include seismic and sonar surface ships and subsea ROV and acoustic systems. When seeps are detected, you are directed to marshal resources, quickly investigate, and report findings to the government in no more than four hours. 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.
As the National Incident Commander, I must remain abreast of the status of your source control efforts. Now that source control has evolved into a period beyond the expected 48 hour interval of the Well Integrity Test, I am requiring that you provide me a written update within 24 hours of your intentions going forward. I remain concerned that all potential options to eliminate the discharge of oil be pursued with utmost speed until I can be assured that no additional oil will spill from the Macondo Well.
You may use your letter of 9 July as a basis for your update. Specifically, you must provide me your latest containment plan and schedule in the event that the Well Integrity Test is suspended, the status and completion timelines for all containment options currently under development, and details of any other viable source control options including hydraulic control that you are
considering. You should highlight any points at which progress along one option will be impacted by resource trade-offs to achieve progress along another option. Include options for and impacts of continued twice-a day seismic testing versus once a day testing.
As you develop the plans above, note that the primary method of securing the source is the relief well and this effort takes precedence. Therefore, I direct you to provide a detailed plan for the final stages of the relief well that specifically addresses the interaction of this schedule and any other activity that may potentially delay relief well completion.
Have your representative provide results on the monitoring efforts and source control requirements described above during today’s BP and Government Science Team call at 8:00 PM CDT.
THAD W. ALLEN
Now, I am puzzled. That gas and oil is seeping form the floor seems to be nothing new, judging from the news that has been out there for some time. For example, Alexander Higgins’ blog wrote on 28.06.2010:
There seems to be a great deal of skepticism over the possibility that cracks in the well casing and rock formation surrounding the BP Gulf Oil spill could lead to oil leaking from cracks in the seafloor.
However the chronology of the IXTOC blowout reveals that and underground blowout caused oil to leak from cracks in the seafloor.
Some experts deny that there are even cracks in the rocks surrounding the leaking oil well even though MMS documents show that BP has reports a series of cracks in the well casing and surrounding rock formation as far back as February.
Other experts contend that you can’t have cracks in the seafloor of the Gulf of Mexico because the entire seabed is a layer of silt that has the consistency of pudding.
The facts are that there BP has reports cracks in the sea floor and well casing and that there have been a series of well control events or blowouts that have occurred during the drilling of of the Macondo oil well that is now leaking millions of gallons of oil every day into the Gulf of Mexico.
The first report of cracks in the both rocks surrounding the well and in the well itself in February was only the first in a series of “well control events” or blowouts.
It seems that the United States research ship Thomas Jefferson has collected data and compiled a graph to document where oil is seeping (see more at blog alexanderhiggins.com):
In other words, the information that gas and oil may be leaking around the well is nothing new, it has been around for quite some time now, nevertheless, BP was allowed to proceed with its ‘fix’, possibly making the situation worse.