Oil Spill: Is the Well Damaged?, Time.com, July 18, 2010:
Yet the 4 PM deadline came and went ... BP and the government seemed split, with the oil company looking to push forward on a potentially risky containment procedure and Washington exercising caution. It only became clear late on Sunday why government scientists were worried. ...
Allen directed BP to provide him a written procedure for opening the choke valve on the containment cap "as quickly as possible without damaging the well should hydrocarbon seepage near the wellhead be confirmed."
At this point it's not certain that what those "undetermined anomalies" represent, nor has it been confirmed that the seepage Allen referred to—reported first by the AP—contains methane. ... "[W]e don't know the exact condition of the wellbore," Allen said on Friday—though the discovery Sunday of seepages indicates that all may not be well.