The amount of oil siphoned off from the ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico could be doubled by next month, according to the US official in charge of dealing with the disaster.
BP is moving a second ship to the spill site to enable it to increase the amount of oil being collected.
The company installed a containment system, or cap, last week.
Admiral Thad Allen said the new technology being put in place could potentially siphon up to 50,000 barrels a day.
“Between the middle of June and the first week or so of July we are going to start incrementally building out a new mooring system and then production vessels that will be linked to shuttle tankers that can accommodate a great flow rate,” he explained. “At that point, once we know we can do that, we will probably shift from a containment cap we have right now to a more hard cap, which will help us to capture more if not all of the oil that is coming out of the well head.”
The British Prime Minister has told BP he is “frustrated and concerned” about the environmental damage being caused by the spill.
David Cameron discussed the issue with President Obama on Saturday and afterwards Downing Street issued a statement saying Obama has said he had “no interest in undermining the value of BP” and “the frustrations over the oil spill had nothing to do with national identity.”
The UK government has defended BP’s economic value, in the face of harsh criticism from the US.
The damage is becoming increasingly visible. One emergency rehabilitation centre in Louisiana has treated more than 150 birds.
A third of the Gulf’s waters remain closed for fishing, while tar balls have washed up on Florida’s beaches.