EMBATTLED oil major BP could soon siphon off up to 20,000 barrels a day from its leaking well in the Gulf of Mexico – twice the amount it is currently collecting.
US Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, who is leading the operation for the American government, said that BP could contain twice as much oil as it did over the weekend when it lowered a containment cap over the damaged blow-out preventer.
BP managed to collect up to 10,500 barrels of oil on Sunday, an increase on the 6,000 it redirected to the surface a day earlier.
But Allen said the US government estimates that up to 25,000 barrels of oil a day have been spilling into the Gulf, since the Deepwater Horizon well blew up in April.
BP initially estimated 5,000 barrels were leaking from the well but later revised the estimate to up to 19,000 barrels.
Aroundy 120 miles of Gulf coastline has already been affected by the spill and attempts to contain the leak will last until August at the earliest.
Matters worsened for the embattled firm when Gazprom, the Kremlin-controlled gas monopoly, threw into doubt the future of a huge gas field in Siberia, currently controlled by BP’s Russian joint venture TNK-BP.
There were hopes Gazprom would buy the field for up to $1bn (£690m) but it said it has no intention of making a bid.