Obama, White House commission to discuss BP oil spill

Obama, White House commission to discuss BP oil spill
# 02 June 2010 01:34 (UTC +04:00)
Baku-APA. President Barack Obama was to huddle Tuesday with the leaders of a White House commission investigating the BP oil spill, as the company turned to yet another new effort to contain the disaster, APA reports quoting news.yahoo.com website.
Obama was to meet in the Oval Office with handpicked commission leaders Bob Graham, a former Florida governor and ex-US senator, and with William Reilly, a former head of the Environmental Protection Agency.
The White House said the president would issue a statement in the Rose Garden after the meeting, which comes after the failure of BP’s so-called "top kill" attempt to plug the leak by pumping heavy drilling mud into the well.
BP said the next approach would be to try to contain the flow of oil until a relief well can be drilled to sever and seal the well, which will take until at least August.
Engineers at the oil giant plan to use robot submarines to cleanly cut a broken riser pipe and then lower a dome over it onto the blowout preventer that was supposed to have shut down the flow when the well blew April 20.
A tube would then siphon most of the oil to a ship on the surface.
"Within hours we’ll begin the series of cuts and the robots take sheers and diamond cut saw will put a clean cut across the top of the well," Bob Dudley, the company’s managing director, said on CNN.
A similar procedure has already been attempted by BP, but it did not work because ice-like crystals formed in what was a larger dome, clogging it.
"We learned a lot in the first containment dome we tried," Dudley said. "We’ve designed this cap to pump warm sea water down along with ethanol to eliminate the risk of hydrates. The engineering is more straight forward."
In cutting the riser pipe, however, BP is running the risk of unleashing an even larger torrent of oil if the new dome does not work.
If it works, BP engineers plan to lower another dome to capture a second flow of oil through the blowout preventer, Dudley said.
"By the end of the month, we are engineering a completely separate system that will make it more storm proof with a free standing riser that would allow for quick disconnects if needed," he said.
Meanwhile, BP’s share prices plummeted in London on news of its latest failure to cap the leak -- a development which was likely to be copied when Wall Street trading gets underway after Monday’s Memorial Day holiday break.
With the cost of the leak approaching one billion dollars, BP shares dropped 15.2 percent to 420 pence after company officials warned they may not be able to stop the flow of its from its undersea well until August.
"The cost of the response to date amounts to about 990 million dollars (811 million euros), including the cost of the spill response, containment, relief well drilling, grants to the Gulf states, claims paid and federal costs," BP said in a statement on Tuesday.
"It is too early to quantify other potential costs and liabilities associated with the incident."
At least 20 million gallons of oil are feared to have already flooded into the Gulf since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on April 20 killing 11 people and sank into the sea two days later.
More areas of Louisiana reported oil washed ashore Monday, extending the scope of the disaster. US officials expanded a fishing ban in the Gulf of Mexico by more than 1,000 square miles (2,600 square kilometers) amid a spreading oil slick.
Some 61,854 square miles (160,200 square kilometers) of Gulf of Mexico waters are now closed to fishing, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said. That area is close to the size of Tunisia, according to an AFP calculation.
And with hurricane season starting Tuesday, residents fear oil could be pushed up onto the Florida, Texas, Mississippi and Alabama coastlines when storms roll through the area.
Former shrimper turned tugboat captain Kevin "Godzilla" Curole told AFP, "This is going to kill more species of fish than BP even knows exist, and it will kill our whole way of life.
"People used to come here to fish. But now they’re going to come here to look at a memorial to what is going to be an extinct way of life," he said.
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