New Orleans, La. – Retired Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen says the higher the pressure readings, the better. He says higher numbers indicate the flow is coming up an intact well system.
"If the pressure readings stay low, that will tell us that the oil is probably going someplace else, and we need to consider the fact that we may have a breach in the well bore or in one of the casings. If that is the case that we have very low pressure readings for about three hours, we will probably stop at that point."
Allen says sonar acoustics and underwater robots will also keep watch on the well system as pressure tests are conducted every six hours. If the well appears to be leaking from unseen cracks, the operation will quickly switch back to collecting oil through pipes to surface ships.
For NPR News, I'm Eileen Fleming in New Orleans.