BP Oil Leak: Despite Cap Efforts, No End in Sight

At best, 7,000 barrels of oil a day will spill into Gulf until mid-July.

ByABC News
June 19, 2010, 9:49 PM

June 19, 2010— -- President Obama boldly predicts that most of the oil leaking the Gulf of Mexico will be contained by the end of this month. Maybe, but at least 7,000 barrels of oil will continue to pour into the Gulf every day until mid-July at the earliest.

That's because the so-called "top hat," which the country watched being installed with great fanfare two weeks ago, that was supposed to cut the leaking oil to a "relative trickle" is too small and will be replaced by BP.

The president left the impression that BP is getting a handle on containment when he spoke to the country Tuesday.

"In the coming days and weeks, these efforts should capture up to 90 percent of the oil leaking out of the well," Obama told the nation from the Oval Office.

BP does say by the end of June it will be able to handle 53,000 barrels of oil a day. But the government estimates that up to 60,000 barrels a day is leaking -- meaning 7,000 barrels of oil a day will leak at least for the next 25 days.

It's that flow rate, which BP and government officials originally said was unimportant, that is so important.

BP designed the "top hat" to handle up to 18,000 barrels a day. When workers, using robotic vehicles put it on the well head, it was obvious the contraption was overmatched.

It is not providing a solid seal, and there is so much pressure and oil flowing through the well that BP can't close all four vents of the vessel, fearing that it might pop off the well head.