In a letter sent Sunday to U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral James Watson, BP said it expects to have the capacity to capture between 40,000 and 53,000 barrels of oil a day by the end of June. That compares with 15,000 barrels a day now, out of a flow of 20,000 to 40,000 barrels scientists estimate are coming from the well. The collection capacity will go as high as 80,000 barrels a day by mid-July if needed (if the high estimates of the leak size are correct.
By the end of a June, a third vessel will raise the capacity of the system to between 40,000 barrels a day and 53,000 barrels a day. These ships are supposed to be better able to withstand weather conditions and could be quickly shut down and restarted in the event of a hurricane. The height of hurricane season on the U.S. Gulf Coast falls between mid-August and mid-September.