New Orleans, La. – Oil keeps gushing around a loose-fitting cap at the seafloor. Retired Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen says seas are too rough to finish hooking up a third production vessel called the Helix. When it's expected to be on line in a few days, Allen says the surface operations could suck up most of the oil as it spills. Officials are still not sure about putting a tighter containment cap at the seabed because the blown out well would be wide open for a week while the switch is made.
"Oil in the water is never a good thing. But some oil that's coming out around that seal right now is actually the price of being able to produce up to 25,000 barrels a day and maybe up to close to 53,000 when we get the Helix producer on line."
Allen says drilling on the first of two relief wells is ahead of schedule but he's sticking to the mid-August estimate for finally plugging the well.
For NPR News, I'm Eileen Fleming in New Orleans.