OVER THE GULF OF MEXICO – A new oil leak was discovered at the site in the Gulf of Mexico where a drilling rig exploded and sank, and experts now estimate that five times more has been spilling into the water a day than previously believed, the Coast Guard said late Wednesday.
However, an official from BP PLC, which leases the rig, said he did not believe the newly discovered leak has increased the amount of oil spilling into the water beyond earlier estimates. Coast Guard Rear Adm. Mary Landry disagreed with his statement at a news conference and said she was relying on a new estimate from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration.
She said NOAA experts now estimate that 5,000 barrels a day of oil are spilling into the gulf. Officials had estimated the leak for days at 1,000 barrels a day.
The news came hours after crews tried a test burn on the massive spill to try to slow it from reaching the U.S. shoreline.
Doug Suttle, chief operating officer for BP, said he thinks the estimate of 1,000 barrels a day is accurate. He showed a diagram showing where the leaks are and said the newly discovered leak is upstream from the previous leaks.
“Due to its location, we do not believe this changes the amount currently believed to be released,” he said.
When asked again, Landry stuck to the NOAA estimate and said it was based on aerial surveys, study of the trajectory of the oil slick and other factors.