A BP executive on Thursday agreed with a U.S. government estimate that the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico could be pumping up to 5,000 barrels a day of crude into the ocean, far more than previously thought.

“I would say the range is one to 5,000 barrels a day,” said Doug Suttles, BP Chief Operating Officer for Exploration and Production, interviewed on the NBC Today show.

The U.S. government's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) earlier said that more than 200,000 gallons of oil a day were now thought to be spewing into the Gulf from the debris of the Deepwater Horizon rig, which sank last week following a deadly explosion.

British energy giant BP, which leases the rig and has been leading the response to the disaster along with the U.S. Coast Guard, had earlier said they believed the flow of oil at 1,000 barrels, or 42,000 gallons, a day.

Offer

“We'll take help from anyone,” Mr. Suttles told NBC. “We welcome the offer from the Department of Defence. We're working with the experts from across the industry.” The head of the U.S. military northern command (NORTHCOM), General Victor Renuart, said on Wednesday the U.S. military was ready to help, but had not been asked. Northcom has “a supporting relationship to the Department of Homeland Security and primarily the Coast Guards,” said General Renuart.

“We have some capabilities that could be used, however right now the situation seems to be managed well by the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Coast Guards, so we continue to monitor the situation,” he told reporters.

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