BP on Notice From Thad Allen: Seabed Seeping

07/18/2010 09:48 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Adm. Thad Allen released a letter to BP Chief Managing Director Bob Dudley tonight in which he demands that BP provide more monitoring information, citing "a detected seep a distance from the well and undetermined anomalies at the well head."

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.

Allen goes on to complain that the test of the new containment cap has gone beyond the 48 hours allowed for the integrity test, and demanded a written update.

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.

Allen said that sonar and visual monitoring of the seabed is of "paramount importance," suggesting that independent scientists have been correct all along about a possible seabed rupture. Allen directed Dudley to immediately provide written procedures for opening the choke valve as quickly as possible without damaging the well should hydrocarbon seepage near the well head be confirmed.

Earlier today, New Orleans' WWL-TV cited an Associated Press report that "an administration official familiar with the spill oversight said a seep and possible methane were found near the busted oil well."

Pressure readings had not been as high as expected, fanning fears that either the wellbore was leaking or that the seabed had ruptured near the blown-out wellhead. If the containment cap has to be removed or reopened, oil will once again begin flowing into the Gulf of Mexico, compounding the US's worst environmental disaster.

The anonymous official also said, as Allen did in his letter, that BP is not complying with the government's demand for more monitoring.