News / USA

New Gulf Oil Containment Plan to Take at Least Another Month

The U.S. government says energy giant BP might be able to start capturing almost twice as much oil from its broken well in the Gulf of Mexico.

Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen said Friday BP wants to use bigger tanker ships, flexible pipes and a more permanent containment cap on the damaged well.    But he also said it will be more than a month before the necessary equipment is in place.

Allen said the changes should enable BP to capture 50,000 barrels of oil per day, up from the current capacity of 28,000 barrels per day.

The most recent data from BP shows the current system captured 15,400 barrels of oil during a 24-hour period.

Officials say U.S. President Barack Obama will discuss the leak and the reaction of British-based BP during a phone call with British Prime Minister David Cameron Saturday.

On Monday, Mr. Obama travels to the Gulf Coast, his fourth trip to the region since the crisis began.

Mr. Obama has also summoned top BP executives for a meeting at White House on Wednesday.  It is not clear if BP's chief executive, Tony Hayward, will attend.

In an interview with Politico Friday, the president criticized lawmakers, saying they need to share the blame for the oil spill.

Mr. Obama said many lawmakers now calling for the government to take action would have criticized any plans to prepare for a potential disaster just six months ago.  He said those lawmakers would have labeled the request as wasteful spending.

He also said that many of the people calling for the government to do more in the Gulf are the same people who have been criticizing the government for doing too much.

Meanwhile, the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, has said oil companies such as BP should face unlimited liability for damages caused by spills in cases where negligence can be proven.

Estimates from the U.S. Geological Survey show more than 40,000 barrels of oil may have been leaking daily from the well, more than twice previous estimates, before BP cut a pipe last week to attach a containment device.  Prior government estimates said 12,000 to 19,000 barrels of oil were gushing per day.

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

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