Allen, the national incident commander, said the higher collection rate of oil was achieved through a combination recovery system that includes the Discoverer Enterprise linked to the wellhead by the riser pipe and the use of choke-and-kill lines bringing up additional oil.
"This is a significant improvement moving forward," Allen said during the daily briefing on the oil that has been spewing unchecked into the gulf since April 20 when a Transoceanic oil rig leased by BP exploded, killing 11 workers.
The federal government last week updated the best estimate of the flow rate to 35,000 to 60,000 barrels of crude a day. The latest flow rate numbers mean the recovery capacity must be increased, too, Allen said.
"There are additional vessels being brought into the area," he said, adding it's anticipated by the end of the month June the recovery capacity will increase to about 53,000 barrels a day.
"Following that, there'll have to be a decision made when we reach max capacity with the recovery system we have on the scene with the containment cap," he said.
The new flow estimates also mean officials are redoubling efforts to increase skimming capability from shore out to about 15 miles, Allen said.
He said officials are working with the Pentagon on the availability of Navy skimmers and "we're also looking at the availability around the country. ... What I told the folks is don't anticipate demand can ever be met on skimmers. Getting as many as we can make and as fast as we can get them here is what we need to do."
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