HOUSTON – British energy giant BP said Tuesday it had sharply increased the amount of oil it was capturing from its ruptured Gulf of Mexico well, but it is not clear how much crude is still gushing out.
However scientists are taking issue with BP’s statement that a containment cap placed over a gushing well could be capturing “the vast majority” of oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico. They suggest it’s misleading, if not irresponsible, to make such a statement when the company has acknowledged it does not know how much oil is flowing from the busted well, or how much the spill rate has increased since engineers cut a riser pipe so it could properly fit the containment cap.
“I don’t see that as being a credible claim,” said Steve Wereley, associate professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University and a member of the Flow Rate Technical Group, a national panel of scientists and engineers tasked with determining the spill size.
The London based British Petroleum share price closed down 5 per cent after U.S. President Barack Obama said he wanted to know “whose ass to kick” over the massive spill. He told NBC News’ “Today” show that if BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward worked for him, he would have fired him by now over his response to the 50-day-old spill, the worst environmental disaster in U.S history. “I don’t sit around talking to experts because this is a college seminar,” Obama said in an interview that aired Tuesday. “We talk to these folks because they potentially have the best answers – so I know whose ass to kick.”
With losses mounting among hoteliers, fishermen and others whose livelihoods have been curtailed by the spill, frustration was escalating along the Gulf Coast.
“I am still disgusted with the lack of leadership and no one stepping up to take charge and say, ‘We’re not going to let the oil hit the beaches,’ ” said Tony Kennon, mayor of Orange Beach, Alabama, who on Saturday confronted a top BP official at a news conference.
“The word ‘overkill’ doesn’t exist in my vocabulary right now,” Kennon said. “I think we should have every possible asset on the shelf for any possible problem and have a contingency plan for any issue. I don’t feel like that’s the case.”