BP: Gulf Seafloor Hydrocarbon Seep Believed Natural

HOUSTON (Dow Jones Newswires), July 19, 2010

BP believes an unspecified amount of hydrocarbons seeping from the seafloor near the leaking Macondo well is natural and unrelated to the test of its new containment system, a company spokesman said Monday.

"We understand it's natural seepage," the spokesman said. The seepage is located at about two miles from the well.

The U.S. government authorized BP to keep a tightly sealed cap on the damaged well on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico for an additional 24 hours, as concerns linger about the possibility that oil or methane could be seeping from nearby locations as a result of the procedure.

Thad Allen, the retired Coast Guard Admiral heading up the federal response to the oil spill, raised concerns with BP on Sunday about the possible seepage of hydrocarbons, demanding that the company closely monitor the situation and keep government authorities apprised of any leaks.

In a statement Monday, Allen said he authorized BP to continue the procedure, which since Thursday has stopped the flow of oil from the Macondo well, after the company on Sunday evening provided fresh assurances to the government's science team.

"I authorized BP to continue the integrity test for another 24 hours and I restated our firm position that this test will only continue if they continue to meet their obligations to rigorously monitor for any signs that this test could worsen the overall situation," Allen said in a release early Monday.

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