BP Says Progress Made on New Oil Leak Cap
BP Says Progress Made on New Oil Leak Cap

A senior adviser to U.S. President Barack Obama says he is confident that energy giant BP's latest effort to contain the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will work.  BP says it is making progress in installing a new containment cap over an underwater well that has been spewing oil into Gulf for nearly three months.  

Mr. Obama's adviser David Axelrod said the White House is confident that if BP installs the new containment system, it will go a long way toward stopping the oil leak.

"By putting this new cap on, they are going to expand the capacity to get 80,000 barrels a day out of this well,"  Axelrod said on the "Fox News Sunday" television program. "The hope is that we will be containing all of the oil that comes out of that well by the end of July," he said.  "But obviously to kill the well will take a little bit longer.  The goal though is to contain the well, so there is no more oil leaking into the Gulf."

Since the environmental disaster began on April 20, the spill has fouled huge expanses of the U.S. Gulf coast, wreaking havoc on birds and marine life.  It has also seriously affected tourism, fishing and other regional industries.

Until a new cap is in place, oil from the well is expected to gush at a rate of at least 60,000 barrels per day.

On Saturday, robotic submarines removed a cap that was placed on top of the well in early June to collect the oil.  The new, tighter cap could be in place as early as Monday.

Early Sunday, BP senior vice president Kent Wells said he was pleased with the progress.  But he cautioned that challenges remain.  BP says it hopes the capping operation will be completed within three to six days.  The company is drilling two relief wells to permanently plug the leak.  The first is not expected to be finished until at least the middle of next month.

Experts warn that the Gulf of Mexico hurricane season, which will continue through November, could hamper efforts to seal the well.

The White House is pressing BP to take advantage of the current calm weather in the Gulf and move forward with plans to contain what is the biggest oil spill ever in U.S. waters.

On the CBS television program Sunday "Face the Nation," U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said an investigation into the cause of spill is ongoing.  He stressed that the probe might include any company involved in the drilling of the damaged well.

"We are in the process of accumulating documents, talking to witnesses on both the criminal side as well as the civil side," he said.

Holder said the Obama administration is working to ensure that U.S. taxpayers do not pay for the clean up.  Under pressure from the White House, BP has set up a $20 billion fund to cover claims arising from the spill.