Friday: Obama Administration Requests White House Meeting With BP Execs

BY Tom LeGro  June 11, 2010 at 9:06 AM EST

Updated at 2 p.m. ET

In a press conference Friday, U.S. Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said that BP will seek to nearly double its oil-collecting ability by mid-July. On questions around the newly revised estimates on the amount of oil being released nto the Gulf, Allen said: “I think we’re still dealing with the flow estimate. We’re still trying to refine those numbers.”

Posted 9:30 a.m. ET, Revised 1:30 p.m.

A day after new estimates showed the amount of oil spewing in to the Gulf of Mexico may be significantly more than previously believed, the Obama administration has asked for a White House meeting next week with senior BP executives.

The Washington Post’s Anne E. Kornblut reports:

“In a letter to Carl-Henric Svanberg, the chairman of BP’s board, Coast Guard Adm. Thad W. Allen requested the presence of ‘you and any appropriate officials’ from the company at the White House on Wednesday. Allen is overseeing the Obama administration’s response to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico….He added that Obama would attend ‘a portion of this meeting.’”

BP has not yet publicly responded to the request.

New estimates for the blown-out well at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico show the amount of oil leaking may have been up to twice as much as previously thought — as many as 50,000 barrels or 2.1 million gallons per day, according to scientists consulting with the federal government.

The figures could mean that up to more than 100 million gallons of oil have already spilled into the Gulf, which would dwarf 1989′s Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska, the previous worst U.S. oil spill at 11 million gallons.

As the New York Times’ Justin Gillis and Henry Fountain report, “an amount equivalent to the Exxon Valdez disaster could be flowing into the Gulf of Mexico every 8 to 10 days.”

For a different perspective, the Washington Post’s Joel Achenbach and Juliet Eilperin report:

“[T]he new estimates, released Thursday by government-appointed scientists, show that the well most likely produces 5,000 barrels before breakfast.”

Importantly, the estimate does not take into account the cutting of the riser pipe on June 3, which BP said would increase the flow by about 20 percent, and subsequent placement of a cap. The new device is capturing 15,000 barrels of oil a day to a ship at the surface.

The government panel, called the Flow Rate Technical Group, is preparing another estimate that will cover the period after the riser was cut.

Also on Thursday, BP agreed to speed up payments to frustrated workers in the Gulf region and others affected by oil spill.

4 Americans Killed in Iraq, Afghanistan

A car bomb struck a joint U.S.-Iraqi military convoy north of Baghdad on Friday, killing at least five people, including two American, and wounding 22 others.

In Afghanistan, NATO said the two American service members died Friday in an explosion in the south but did not disclose details or the location because relatives had not yet been notified.

23 Killed, Hundreds Injured in Kyrgyzstan Riots

At least 23 people have been killed and more than 300 were injured in clashes in Kyrgyzstan’s second-largest city of Osh, reports the BBC.

According to local reports, fighting broke out between rival gangs and developed into gun battles late on Thursday, but it is not clear exactly who is behind the violence.

The interim government has been struggling to restore order after a violent uprising in April. Osh is home to a large ethnic Uzbek community and is the power-base of the ousted president Kurmanbek Bakiyev, according to the BBC.

Pope Asks for Forgiveness

Speaking at the close of an international conference of priests, Pope Benedict XVI asked for forgiveness from God and from victims of sex-abuse, pledging to prevent future abuse. In the homily to 15,000 priests, the pope said the Catholic Church had to do a better job of vetting candidates for the priesthood.

Mandela to Miss World Cup Openning

The 2010 FIFA World Cup kicks off Friday when host country South Africa takes on Mexico in Johannesburg.

Former president Nelson Mandela will miss the opener after his 13-year-old great-granddaughter was killed Thursday night in car wreck after attending a concert celebrating the start of the tournament.