BP slashes oil capture estimates for Gulf spill

LONDON Mon May 24, 2010 2:59am EDT

LONDON (Reuters) - BP said the oil it is siphoning off from a ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico was on average less than half its estimate for the amount leaking each day and well below previous rates.

BP said on Monday the oil collected by the mile-long siphon tube was at times as low as 1,360 barrels of oil per day in the six days to May 23 with the tube capturing an average 2,010 barrels per day in the time period.

The average figure is less than half the 5,000 barrels per day the company estimates is leaking into the sea and comes after it said it was managing to siphon off around 5,000 barrels per day a few days ago. Some experts have given significantly higher estimates for the size of the leak.

BP said the spill which has seen oil flowing into the sea for more than a month after a rig explosion in April had cost it $760 million so far, up from the $625 million estimate it reported on May 18.

The British oil giant said the equipment was in place for it to try to stop the flow of oil from the well by blocking it with heavy fluids and it would try to do this in the next few days.

Pressure is mounting on BP after President Barack Obama warned it on Sunday that it would remove the company from efforts to seal the well if it is not seen as doing enough.

BP said in a separate statement on Monday it had written to U.S. government departments to reiterate its pledge to be transparent in its response to the oil spill.

(Reporting by Sarah Young; editing by Paul Hoskins)

FILED UNDER: