| GEO Business|
| Gulf oil slick growing: US Coast Guards|
| Updated at: 0919 PST, Wednesday, April 28, 2010|
NEW YORK: A growing oil spill is fast approaching the Louisiana coast and officials are considering the option of burning the crude in the water, the U.S. Coast Guard said.
The 100-mile by 45-mile spill is about 20 miles off the Louisiana coast, and could reach there in three days if current weather conditions persist, Rear Adm. Mary Landry said in a press conference here. Louisiana has activated its spill response plan, she added.
"If we don't secure the well this will be one of the most significant spills in U.S. history," Landry said. "But we're working hard to secure the well."
Responders are considering so-called "in-situ" burning--controlled burning of crude on the water surface. The measure could be used as part of Wednesday's offshore operations, Landry said.
The measure comes as BP PLC (BP), the operator of the lease where a Transocean Ltd. (RIG) oil rig sank last Tuesday, has so far failed to shut down the well. The company, which originally estimated that its attempt to activate underwater infrastructure to cut the oil flow would last 24 to 36 hours, is still trying this strategy as its engineers have devised new options, said BP executive Doug Suttles.
"We will not stop until we have exhausted every single option," Suttles said, adding that the company was spending $6 million a day in the effort.
In addition, BP plans to drill an 18,000-foot relief well to stop oil flow, and to put in place a dome above the leak to contain the spill. The dome is being built and it will be put in place in two to four weeks, Suttles said.
The U.S. Minerals Management Service, which supervises offshore oil and gas operations, will grant BP on Tuesday the permit to drill, said regional director Lars Herbst.
Some 700,000 gallons of diesel that were stored in the rig's pontoon still appear to be in place, Landry said.
The 1,000-barrel-a-day spill, which emanates from two sources in the drilling pipe that once connected the 5,000 foot-deep well to the floating platform, is probably the deepest ever to occur, Landry said.