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BP Containment May Increase Oil Flow for a Week, Browner Says

BP Plc’s new tactic to stop its gushing Gulf of Mexico oil well may increase the flow by as much as 20 percent for as long as a week and crude may leak until August, White House energy adviser Carol Browner said.

The company’s plan to lower a cap over the wellhead 5,000 feet below the surface will require cutting through a damaged pipe, or riser, that may be limiting the flow, Brower said today on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” BP has said installing the lower-marine riser package cap may take four to seven days.

“What our experts are saying is that when you cut the riser, the kink may be holding some of the oil in, and so we could see an increase,” Browner said. “Our experts are saying as much as 20 percent.”

Cutting the pipe at the wellhead may produce “a small increase” in flow, BP Managing Director Robert Dudley said today on CNN’s “State of the Union” broadcast. “We should not expect to see a large increase.” The riser isn’t creating “that great of a restriction” in flow, Dudley said.

The Obama administration is stepping up oversight of BP’s response to the spill, which began after the April 20 explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon rig BP leased from Transocean Ltd. President Barack Obama met Louisiana officials on May 28 to review of federal efforts in the Gulf.

“It is possible we will have oil leaking from this well until August,” Browner said on CBS. “We are prepared for the worst,” she said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

‘What to Do’

Browner said the Obama administration is now telling BP “what to do” and cited the decision yesterday to stop the “top kill” process amid concerns pumping more mud into the well was dangerous. The U.S. also ordered BP to drill two relief wells, not one as planned by the company.

BP was ordered to drill a second relief well after proposing a single pipe, Browner said. Work on the initial relief well is about 10 days ahead of schedule, and BP estimated the process will be completed by mid-August, she said on CBS.

“This is probably the biggest environmental disaster we’ve ever faced in this country,” Browner said on NBC. “It’s certainly the biggest oil spill and we’re responding with the biggest environmental response.”

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