U.S. weather forecasters are watching Tropical Storm Alex to see if it may pose a threat to oil spill clean-up efforts in the Gulf of Mexico.
Forecasters said early Saturday there was no way to know for sure if ongoing efforts off the U.S. Gulf Coast will be affected. But the National Hurricane Center's Jack Bevins tells the Associated Press that the most recent models show Alex missing the area.
U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen warned Friday that the storm system could force officials to shut down the oil spill containment effort for as much as two weeks.
Allen said if the containment effort has to be abandoned, the leaking oil well will not be attended and oil will flow freely into the Gulf.
Admiral Allen also said an oil production vessel from the North Sea is expected to be in place next week that should more than double the amount of oil captured from the leaking well.
He said U.S. Vice President Joe Biden planned to be in the Gulf Coast region Tuesday to assess the response and clean-up efforts.
Oil giant BP says 23,725 barrels of oil were collected or burned off Thursday. Allen says the company hopes to be able to collect as much as 53,000 barrels a day from the well site by the end of the month.
BP says it has so far spent $2.35 billion responding to the oil spill in the Gulf. The London-based company released the new number Friday, saying it includes $126 million in payments to those impacted by the spill.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.