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Gulf oil spill: BP worried about its own bid to capture more oil

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BP hopes to siphon and burn more oil when another ship arrives later this month and connects to the kill line – another part of the blowout preventer used in “top kill.” Those two ships would give BP a total siphon-and-burn capacity of 1 million to 1.5 million gallons a day, the letter suggests.

Added to the current capacity of the Discoverer Enterprise, BP would be poised to capture more than 2 million gallons by the end of the month.

But in the letter, BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles warned of several factors that may prevent the operations from working at full capacity. The “junk” fired into the blowout preventer during “top kill” could clog the choke and kill lines. Moreover, those lines were not intended for continuous use. Over time, they could erode.

BP cites risks

There are considerable risks involved, Mr. Suttles warned. The coordination of different vessels performing complicated tasks and the presence of volatile hydrocarbons among several hundred workers creates a situation that “is significantly beyond both BP and industry practice.”

“We will continue to aggressively drive schedule to minimize the pollution, but we must not allow this drive to compromise our No. 1 priority, that being the health and safety of our people,” Suttles wrote.

President Obama is planning to address the new plan, among other issues involving the BP effort, Tuesday evening in his first Oval Office speech since taking office. He traveled to the Gulf Coast Monday to meet with state and local leaders from all four states – Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida – where oil from the April 20 Deepwater Horizon explosion has reached shore.

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