- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 9, 2010

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Now that crews are collecting more and more oil from the sea-bottom spill, the question is where to put it.

How about burning it?

Equipment collecting the oil and bringing it to the surface is believed to be nearing its daily processing capacity. A floating platform could be the solution to process most of the flow, BP said.

To burn it, the British oil giant is preparing to use a device called an EverGreen Burner, officials said. It turns a flow of oil and gas into a vapor that is pushed out its 12 nozzles and burned without creating visible smoke.

Methods for gathering and disposing of the oil collected from the sea-floor gusher are becoming clearer. 

The current containment system is catching 630,000 gallons daily, Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said at a news briefing in Washington. Officials had previously cited that figure as the system’s general capacity, but Adm. Allen said officials now believe it can handle 756,000 gallons daily.

Even so, there’s still more oil eluding capture. To help gather the rest of the oil, BP is bringing in a second vessel that will increase capacity, as well as the North Sea shuttle tanker that will assist in the transport of the oil. The company previously also said it plans to switch out the current containment cap with a slightly larger one that will seal better and trap more oil.

What’s not is how much oil is eluding capture.

Scientists on a team analyzing the flow said Tuesday that the amount of crude still spewing into the Gulf of Mexico might be considerably greater than what the government and company have claimed.

Their assertions — combined with BP’s rush to build a bigger cap and its apparent difficulty in immediately processing all the oil being collected — have only added to the impression that BP is still floundering in dealing with the catastrophe.

Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen has written to BP CEO Tony Hayward demanding “more detail and openness” about how the company is handling mounting damage claims in the wake of the Gulf Coast oil spill. Adm. Allen reminded Mr. Hayward in the letter dated Tuesday that the company “is accountable to the American public for the economic loss caused by the oil spill” and said he recognized Mr. Hayward has “accepted responsibility” for it.

Officials in President Barack Obama’s administration are talking with BP about a longer-term containment strategy with “built-in redundancies,” Adm. Allen said. Obama is scheduled to return to the Gulf Coast on Monday and Tuesday for a two-day update on the spill.

Adm. Allen also noted that he and other officials are meeting with BP later Wednesday to discuss problems with the handling of damage claims related to the April 20 accident.

“We need complete, ongoing transparency into BP’s claims process including detailed information on how claims are being evaluated, how payment amounts are being calculated and how quickly claims are being processed,” Adm. Allen wrote.

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