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Video: Cautious optimism in Gulf as cap holds

  1. Transcript of: Cautious optimism in Gulf as cap holds

    LESTER HOLT, anchor: It is day 90 and the news seems to be more promising by the hour from the Gulf of Mexico where BP now hopes to keep a tight lid on the damaged oil well until they get the relief well finished next month. For a third full day, the customized cap attached atop the well on Thursday held firm and appeared to be preventing new oil from flowing into the gulf. But here's the reality check: Officials are still trying to understand all the data they're getting, and they're not using the word "success" as caution and patience continue to guide their every move during this very critical phase. NBC 's Michelle Kosinski leads our coverage tonight from Venice , Louisiana . Michelle , good evening.

    MICHELLE KOSINSKI reporting: Good evening, Lester . You're right, the good news is that cap remains in place; there doesn't seem to be any oil leaking out. However, there are new concerns tonight that gas may be escaping, and if so, that might not bode well for the integrity of that structure that both BP and the government have been so closely watching. Steady and holding. BP announces that pressure on that cap is right where they want it to be, has been building only very slowly. And that's almost a best-case scenario, an indication there's no major leak, that the structures are sound and that the pressure is leveling off quite a bit lower than expected, putting less strain on the whole thing.

    Mr. DOUG SUTTLES (BP): With these sort of results, we'll continue to leave the well shut in. So at this point, it is encouraging.

    KOSINSKI: And that means potentially no more oil will flow into gulf waters before this well is finally permanently killed. But remember this is still considered a test period and the government warns today, "Work must continue to better understand the lower than expected pressure readings. This work centers on two plausible scenarios, depletion of oil from the reservoir and potential leakage caused by damage."

    KOSINSKI: Also, some experts worry about the pressure still being too much, that keeping the cap on will only raise the risk of mechanical failure.

    Mr. BOB CAVNER (Former Oil Industry Executive): I'm worried about it holding for a long period of time. I would be more comfortable if they would open it up and at least flow some to the surface to keep the pressure in the well down.

    KOSINSKI: Still, the news is a relief here. Frelich Seafood , 35 years running, is barely surviving massive economic pressures.

    Unidentified Woman: We opened, but we may as well have been closed.

    KOSINSKI: Learning that this is looking more and more like an end to the crisis is almost indescribable.

    Woman: You wouldn't imagine. It was just like somebody's dying and they came back to life.

    KOSINSKI: Wow.

    Woman: You know, like that's how you feel it because you were just -- every day you were dying a little bit when you look at the TV and watched the oil come out the -- all over in the water and all the devastation. And it's just very heartbreaking.

    KOSINSKI: Now, more room for optimism. Hopes dashed before are ready to hold on to that cap. Michelle Kosinski , NBC News, Venice, Louisiana.

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