Experts say much more oil may have flowed from well

(AP) - Researchers studying the flow of oil from the blown-out well at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico say as much as twice the amount of oil than previously thought may have been spewing into the sea.

The head of the group analyzing data and images said Thursday that as many as 50,000 barrels - or 2.1 million gallons - of oil may have been flowing daily from the well before the riser was cut on June 3 as part of BP's latest containment effort.

The government has previously estimated that 12,000 to 25,000 barrels of oil - or 504,000 to 1.05 million gallons a day - had been leaking from the well before the riser cut.

Thursday's new figures were announced by U.S. Geological Survey Director Marcia McNutt. No estimates were given for the amount of oil gushing from the well after the June 3 riser cut.

The top federal official overseeing the Gulf oil spill has invited BP executives to meet with President Barack Obama next week.

Earlier this week, a bill to give the Coast Guard more money to respond to the spill zipped through Congress.

The measure now goes to the White House for President Obama's signature.

The bill would lift the $100 million limit the Coast Guard is under when using money from a government trust fund reserved for cleanup costs. Without the extension, the Coast Guard would hit that limit next week.

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