BP says it is making progress on plugging its ruptured oil well in the Gulf of Mexico but it is still too soon to judge whether it has been a success. All eyes are on the complex ‘Top Kill’ procedure in which heavy drilling mud is being pumped down into the well.
As the environmental repercussions of the leak intensify, the pressure is on BP to deal with this deep-sea disaster. It is also on the US President, who has been fending off criticism that he has reacted too slowly.
A day before visiting the Louisiana Gulf for the second time, Barack Obama announced stringent new drilling measures and slammed the strong ties between the oil industry and regulators.
“For years, there has been a scandalously close relationship between oil companies and the agency that regulates them,” he said. “That is why we have decided to separate the people who permit the drilling from those who regulate and ensure the safety of the drilling.”
Just before the president spoke, Elizabeth Birnbaum, the head of the government agency overseeing offshore oil drilling, resigned.
Meanwhile, a government expert penal says the amount of oil spilled has now eclipsed the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska, making this the worst oil spill in US history.