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Oil Spill Cleanup Costs Surpass $3 Billion as Oil Spreads


Ten weeks after the explosion at a BP oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, the company is reporting the cost of the response has surpassed $3 billion - and the oil continues to spread.

The U.S. Coast Guard reported on Monday that tar balls have been found on the beaches of Texas, which now joins the other Gulf states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida affected by the oil that continues to gush from the broken underwater well.

The amount of oil discovered in Texas is tiny compared to what has fouled the coasts of the other four states and caused financial hardships for their residents. BP says it has provided $147 million in payments to people affected by the disaster.

Oil cleanup efforts are being hampered this week by rough seas and high winds. But they could be given a boost by a huge Taiwanese ship which is described as the world's largest oil skimming vessel.

After sailing halfway around the world, the ship has been undergoing tests and could be in operation as early as Tuesday.

The Taiwan company that owns the ship - TMT Shipping Offshore - says it can suck up 500,000 barrels of oily water daily, far greater than the skimmers currently operating in the Gulf.

The U.S. government estimates that 60,000 barrels of oil spew from the well each day.

Numerous attempts to stop the flow of oil have failed. BP is now in the process of drilling a relief well that should be completed by next month and, it is hoped, bring an end to the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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