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US Demands 'Immediate Clarification' From BP on Oil Spill Payments

The Obama administration has demanded "immediate clarification" from oil giant BP, on its commitment to pay for the damages caused by a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

In a letter to BP chief executive Tony Hayward, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano say the public "has a right to a clear understanding of BP's commitment."

The letter, dated May 14, points to statements by BP officials saying the company will pay all necessary clean-up costs and legitimate claims related to the spill, even if they exceed the $75 million liability cap under the Oil Pollution Act.

Meanwhile, BP says its engineers are making a second attempt Sunday to use an almost 2-kilometer-long tube to capture oil from the gushing well.

BP says its first attempt to insert the tube failed when a support frame shifted on the sea bed.

The company has failed at previous efforts to contain the well, which has leaked hundreds of thousands of liters of oil every day since a rig exploded on April 20.

BP's Hayward told British radio Saturday that he hopes the leak can be stopped in a week to 10 days. But he says the worst case scenario is "more than that, and it is impossible to say how much more." Hayward says the incident will be a "transforming event" for deep sea exploration and production activities, but stressed that he does not believe it should stop them.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.