UPDATE 2-BP collected 15,000+ barrels of Gulf oil Tuesday

Wed Jun 9, 2010 6:43pm GMT

* Capture rate of leaking BP oil continues to increase

* BP working to nearly double surface processing capacity (Recasts lead, updates with details from BP)

By Kristen Hays

HOUSTON, June 9 (Reuters) - BP Plc captured a little more than 15,000 barrels of oil with its containment cap system on Tuesday from the leak in the Gulf of Mexico and is aiming to nearly double capacity to handle it at the surface, the U.S. official overseeing the operation said on Wednesday.

U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen said at a news conference in Washington that BP is working to increase processing capacity at a drillship and a service rig at the water's surface to 28,000 barrels (1.18 million gallons/4.45 million liters) a day to handle the load as the company ramps up the collection rate from the seven-week-old leak.

"If we get this thing to 28,000 barrels a day, that's where I want to be," Allen said.

The collection rate has slowly ramped up since British energy giant BP installed the system last week. On Monday, it captured 14,842 barrels, and the cumulative total reached about 57,500 barrels with Tuesday's tally, according to BP figures.

U.S. government scientists have estimated the leak to range from 12,000 barrels (504,000 gallons/1.9 million liters) to 19,000 barrels (798,000 gallons/3 million liters) a day, with one estimate as high as 25,000 barrels (1.05 million gallons/3.97 million liters) a day.

Allen said that team is revisiting its data to try to reach a more solid estimate of the leak's flow rate.   Continued...

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