Gulf Shipping Continues in Gulf

New Orleans, La. – So far, oil spewing from a BP well a mile under water hasn't closed off the mouth of the Mississippi River. Vessels have been moving through the Gulf's Southwest Pass to the Port of New Orleans, where officials are assured the spill won't be a problem through Thursday.
Gary LaGrange is president of the Port of New Orleans. He's keeping a close eye on what federal officials are saying about where the oil slick is headed.

"If a port is closed, the link in the chain of economic development and the movement of commerce is gone to hell in a hand basket, and we simply cannot allow that to happen - this country cannot allow that to happen at this point."

The oil slick is having little effect on oil and gas production in the Gulf itself. Of the 4,000 oil and gas platforms in deep waters up to 200 miles from shore, most are in the Gulf of Mexico.
Minerals Management Service spokesman John Callahan says the Deepwater Horizon disaster has barely caused a blip in production.

"There's been a very small handful of natural gas rigs that have voluntarily decided to shut in - which means cease production - due to the Deepwater Horizon accident. But there hasn't been a great impact on oil or gas production in the Gulf so far."

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is monitoring constantly changing weather and water currents as it tries to predict the oil slick's movements. For NPR News, I'm Eileen Fleming in New Orleans.