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Coast Guard’s Allen: 6,000 Barrels of Oil Captured on Friday

Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen told reporters Saturday morning that a containment cap atop the leaking oil well funneled about 6,000 barrels (252,000 gallons) of oil over 24 hours on Friday to a tanker on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico. BP posted an update on its site saying 6,077 barrels of oil had been captured.

Once again, we’ve updated our oil leak ticker to reflect that news.

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Speaking from Mobile, Ala., Allen said that none of the four vents on the cap have yet been closed to allow a higher rate of capture, but government and BP officials are hoping to do so as they slowly increase the rate to the maximum of around 8,000 barrels a day. As we reported Friday:

> BP is trying to avoid a repeat of the problem that doomed the previous containment system last month, when ice-like methane hydrates formed around the cap as oil and gas mixed with seawater, causing the cap to try to float away from the leak.

Allen said Saturday that methanol is being pumped in to act as a sort of antifreeze around the containment cap.

Allen said he’s still not sure how much of the oil and gas mixture is coming out of the well head, but officials should get a better estimate as they are able to capture more of it and hopefully close the vents to minimize the amount leaking out of the side of the cap. The natural gas coming up the pipe is being burned on a ship on the surface.

As for other efforts to cap the leaking well, Allen said that one relief well being drilled in from the side is now 7,000 feet below the sea floor. It will need to hit 16,000 to 18,000 feet — a process that could take a couple more months — before cement can be pumped in to kill the first well.

As always, you can follow our latest news on the oil spill here.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this blog post said methane was being used as an antifreeze in the containment cap. Methanol is the substance being used for this purpose. The blog is now corrected.

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