As the bagging of washed up spillage on Louisiana’s beaches continues, British Petroleum is preparing to choke off the gush of oil at its defunct well in the Gulf of Mexico in what is being called a “top kill” operation. BP said the seabed injection of heavy fluids and cement has a 70 percent chance of succeeding.
Scientists warn the oil could spread on the ocean currents to the Florida Keys, Cuba and up the eastern US coast. Estimates of the leakage rate under water vary; some scientists say it could have reached 100,000 barrels per day, while BP at one point said it was about 5,000 barrels per day.
Washington has warned BP if its efforts are found wanting it could be removed from operations. BP has lost about a quarter of its market value since the well blew five weeks ago.
BP chief operating officer Doug Suttles said: “We share the frustration. I want this thing to stop. We want it to stop. The people who live here want it to stop. I’m doing everything we can. I don’t know anything we could be doing that we’re not doing. We’re getting lots of help from lots of places. The government is looking at what we do every day. They are providing experts as well. It’s this huge sense of frustration that we have not been able to stop it yet.”
President Obama has called the environmental disaster unprecedented for the United States. Oil is already infiltrating wildlife refuges in Louisiana, where Governor Bobby Jindal made clear he was not letting BP off the hook.
Jindal said: “We’re not done when they cap the leak, we’re not done when they get all the oil out of the water, we’re only going to be done when they restore our wetlands, our fisheries and estuaries back to their healthy pre-spill status.”
Investor concern has risen over BP’s future in the US, as 40 percent of its assets are there. Analysts also say ecological and economic damage could become a political liability in November congressional elections.