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By Matthew Bigg
NEW ORLEANS | Mon Jul 5, 2010 11:50am EDT
NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - Tests on a supertanker adapted to skim large quantities of oily water from the surface of the Gulf of Mexico are inconclusive because of high seas, ship owner TMT Shipping Offshore said on Monday.
Tests on the so-called "super skimmer" conducted just north of the blown out BP Plc well were supposed to be completed on Monday but have been extended because of the weather, said spokesman Bob Grantham.
"After an initial 48-hour testing period results remain inconclusive in light of the rough sea state we are encountering," Grantham said.
"Therefore, working in close coordination with the U.S. Coast Guard, we will be undertaking an additional testing period to make operational and technological adjustments aimed at improving skimming effectiveness given the actual conditions we are encountering in the Gulf," he said.
He said smaller skimming vessels were also struggling to operate in the conditions caused by the aftermath of Hurricane Alex, which passed through the Gulf last week.