Top cap capturing some oil in Gulf of Mexico

Top cap capturing some oil in Gulf of Mexico

Early efforts to siphon off the oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico have had some success, US officials said Saturday, DPA reported.

Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, who is supervising the US response to the ecological disaster, said some 6,000 barrels, or 620 tons, of oil had been captured in 24 hours since oil giant BP lowered a "top cap" containment dome over the leak and began pumping some of the oil to the surface.

Still that is just a fraction of the oil believed to be spilling into the gulf in the weeks since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded April 20, killing 11 workers and causing the largest oil spill in US history.

Estimates say anywhere from 12,000 to 25,000 barrels of oil per day are gushing out of the ruptured well head. The beleaguered company has tried in vain for weeks to plug the leak.

BP Senior Vice President Bob Fryar told reporters Saturday the efforts had "gone extremely well" so far and that the company hoped to increase the amount of oil it was able to save from spilling into the Gulf of Mexico in coming days.

Whether or not BP's containment cap succeeds in siphoning most of the oil, officials stressed it was a temporary solution. Two relief wells are being drilled that could permanently seal off the underwater leak, but these will not be finished until August.

Also Saturday, government officials expanded the no-fishing zone off the coast, adding another 1,460 square kilometres north-east of the spill along Florida. About one-third of the waters in the Gulf of Mexico under US federal control have been closed to fishing.

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