As the condition of BP's leaking oil well continues to deteriorate rapidly, BP has tried desperately to prevent the Federal Government from monitoring the sea floor for oil and methane leaks.
An anonymous government official said BP is not complying with the government's demand for more monitoring of oil and methane leaks on the sea floor. BP spokesman Mark Salt declined to comment on the allegation, but said "we continue to work very closely with all government scientists on this."
But yesterday the Feds finally moved in with their own ships and equipment to monitor the sea floor.

The Government almost immediately found oil leaking from the sea floor along with multiple methane leaks but did not immediately inform the public of their findings.

However, it didn't take long before an "anonymous government official" leaked the those findings to the media.

CBS Channel 12 West Palm Beach reported oil seepage and methane detected around the well.
"Turns out there is a problem, engineers detected seepage and traces of methane in that area around the well."

ABC News reported that an anonymous government official revealed "there may be leaking methane leaking" around the well.
Thad Allen says there is an unidentified seep close to the well... pressure testing will continue in 24 hour increments.

The AP quotes a government source who says there may be leaking methane.

Shortly after the Government's discovery of the methane and oil leaks was leaked to the media Thad Allen sent a sharply worded letter to BP confirming the statements of the anonymous government official.
Given the current observations from the test, including the detected seep a distance from the well and undetermined anomalies at the well head, monitoring of the seabed is of paramount importance during the test period.


As a continued condition of the test, you are required to provide as a top priority access and coordination for the monitoring systems, which include seismic and sonar surface ships and subsea ROV and acoustic systems.

When seeps are detected, you are directed to marshal resources, quickly investigate, and report findings to the government in no more than four hours.

I direct you to provide me a written procedure for opening the choke valve as quickly as possible without damaging the well should hydrocarbon seepage near the well head be confirmed.
The letter from Thad Allen revealed that the multiple statements BP has given to the media over the last few days claiming that there where no signs oil leaking from the sea floor were all outright lies.

Just hours before Thad Allen sent the letter BP gave the following statement during the Kent Well's technical update which once again denied there was oil leaking from the sea floor.
On the well integrity test, the well remains shut in. the pressure does continue to build slowly in between one and two psi per hour and the pressure now is at 6,778 pounds per square inch.

So that trend continues as we would have forecasted in a scenario we talked about where some of the reservoir pressure has been depleted. So the trend continues to follow that expectation.

As you know we have a very extensive monitoring program underway. This includes regular seismic runs. This includes sonar activity. This includes monitoring with the remote operated vehicles, these robotic submarines as well as looking at temperature and noise information from the (inaudible) of air.

All of that data continues to show encouraging signs.

We're not seeing any problems at this point of any issues with the shut in.

And we continue to review that data on a very regular basis with the government teams.
Thad Allen's letter also indicates that the lack of well pressure is due to lack of well integrity which dismisses claims by BP that the low well pressure is due to reservoir depletion.

To add insult to injury BP also revealed that there are there are at least two sources of "bubbles" leaking from the BOP although BP claims they are not hydrocarbons.
And based on that we will - with these sort of results we'll continue to leave the well shut in. So at this point it is encouraging. If you've been watching the video feeds you will have noticed in two different locations, we've seen a few bubbles.

I think as Kent mentioned yesterday this is not uncommon but clearly it's important that we check everything very closely so we're monitoring that. We have done some simple tests to determine if these bubbles appear to be from hydrocarbons or from something else.
CBS News reports that Government scientists are indeed worried that bubbles are methane.
CBS News correspondent Kelly Cobiella reports the stream of bubbles coming from the containment cap itself, which may contain high levels of methane, is also worrying [Government] scientists.
CBS News is also reporting that the Government has detected oil and methane surfacing 3 kilometers from the well head in addition to several anomalies on the top of the sea directly above the well head.
A seep near the oil well that had been spewing crude into the Gulf of Mexico is adding a new twist to a disagreement between BP and the government over what to do next now that the oil has been capped. [...]

CBS News correspondent Kelly Cobiella reports the stream of bubbles coming from the containment cap itself, which may contain high levels of methane, is also worrying scientists.

In a statement released Monday morning, Allen said BP had provided the additional information and results from ongoing tests that he demanded in a tersely-worded letter to BP the day before.

"The federal science team got the answers they were seeking and the commitment from BP to meet their monitoring and notification obligations. Ongoing monitoring and full analysis of both the seepage and methane will continue in coordination with the science team," said the statement. [...]

On "the Early Show" this morning, Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change Carol Browner said that in addition to concern about the bubbles rising from the well head and the oil seepage detected three kilometers from the site, the government has an additional concern:

"One of our own boats, the NOAA Pisces boat, detected some anomalies at the top of the sea above the well head," she told anchor Harry Smith. [...]

The concern all along - since pressure readings on the cap weren't as high as expected - was a leak elsewhere in the wellbore, meaning the cap may have to be reopened to prevent the environmental disaster from becoming even worse and harder to fix. [...]

When asked about the seep and the monitoring, BP spokesman Mark Salt would only say that "we continue to work very closely with all government scientists on this."
Over the weekend the Government made statements it would make BP open the cap and begin collecting oil but BP disagreed to comply with those orders.
When asked about the seep and the monitoring, BP spokesman Mark Salt would only say that "we continue to work very closely with all government scientists on this."

The apparent disagreement began to sprout Saturday when Allen said the cap bottling up the oil would eventually be hooked up to a mile-long pipe to pump the crude to ships on the surface. But early the next day, BP chief operating officer Doug Suttles said the cap should shut the oil in until relief wells are finished.

That could be risky, reports Cobiella. With the oil held back, pressure is slowly building in the well bore and on the failed blowout preventer. If there's a weak point, the pressure could make it worse.
To make matters worse there is now evidence that the condition of the Blowout Preventer is now beginning to deteriorate.

While monitoring the live BP oil spill multi ROV camera wall overnight I recorded several videos of a new oil leak in the Blowout Preventer.

Thad Allen has repeatedly given reassurances to the public that the cap would be opened to relieve any pressure immediately if there were any sign of loss of well integrity.

Yet despite overwhelming evidence that the integrity of both the well and the BOP has been compromised the Federal Government has decided to allow BP to keep the well closed a move that is all reward and no risk for BP.

Thad Allen agreed to allow the well to remain capped for at least another 24 hours in a statement issued earlier today to the press to clear up any ambiguity about what the Government tests found yesterday.
Yesterday I sent BP a letter stating that there were a number of unanswered questions about the monitoring systems they committed to as a condition of the US government extending the well integrity test. Last night a conference call between the federal science team and BP representatives was convened to discuss some specific issues, including the detection of a seep near the well and the possible observation of methane over the well. [...]

Ongoing monitoring and full analysis of both the seepage and methane will continue in coordination with the 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.
Is BP Hoping For An Underground Blowout?

That may seem like an odd question at first but for BP the fine stopped as soon as they capped the well.

BP argues bottom line is that no one want's to see anymore oil leaking into the Gulf which is a valid argument.
"No one associated with this whole activity ... wants to see any more oil flow into the Gulf of Mexico," Doug Suttles, BP's chief operating officer, said Sunday. "Right now we don't have a target to return the well to flow."
But as Don Van Nieuwenhuise points out the only way that Government will ever get accurate flowrate measurements is by reopening the well and capture all of the oil leaking from it.
"Thad Allen wants to do containment because they want to find out what the real flow rate was," Don Van Nieuwenhuise, director of Petroleum Geoscience Programs at the University of Houston, said in an interview yesterday. "Unless they do something like that, they'll almost never be able to prove what the true flow rate was."
BP's fine stopped the the day BP capped the well.

BP is not getting fined for the oil leaking through the sea floor because it is not being measured and to be frank there is no way to measure it.

Given the current condition of the well, which is leaking oil through the sea floor and leaking oil and methane from the BOP, the longer the well remains closed the higher the risk of an uncontrolled blowout.

So the bottom line is a blowout will only prevent the Government from being able to get an accurate measurement of the amount of oil.

What does oil leaking from cracks in the sea floor mean?

During a similar blowout that happened over 30 years ago during the IXTOC disaster an underground blowout occurred that led to several leaks from cracks in the seafloor.

Those leaks hindered the killing of the well using a single relief well but the well was eventually killed using two relief wells.

BP has continued to stonewall congress and by refusing to release the data it has about the sea floor leaks and the integrity of the wellbore even though BP was first ordered to release all data about the leaks and well integrity almost a month ago.

Still the confirmation that their is oil leaking from the sea floor near the well should really not come as a surprise.

The Government has been warning about the possibility for weeks and the Government has even release reports stating they knew about cracks in the sea floor since February.

Those reports in combination with released BP documents confirming an open hole in the well casing and collapsed rock around the well bore leads any to the logical conclusion that such leaks would occur on the sea floor.

While reports and videos of oil leaking from cracks in the sea floor have been making their way around the internet for months the acknowledgment by the Government that oil is leaking from the sea floor finally confirms that BP will run into problems that could prevent it from permanently capping the well.

The longer the well is closed the higher the chances that an all out underground blowout occurs which would further complicate BP's efforts to permanently stop the leaking well.

The high concentration of methane around the well bore is a prelude to oil leaking from the same locations because it is easier for methane to escape through the cracks than it is for oil.

If the cap on the well isn't opened soon it is highly likely that the oil that is now leaking some distance from the well will soon start leaking very close to the well and possibly from directly beneath the well casing itself.

The Federal Government has already considered this scenario and for that reason has announced it is exploring plans to install a permanent pipeline to capture the oil in the even that relief wells fail to stop the well.