Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 December 2014

BP shares plummet as Obama talks tough

Oil gushing from the blown well in the Gulf of Mexico (AP)
Oil gushing from the blown well in the Gulf of Mexico (AP)
Heavy oil from the massive Gulf of Mexico spill reached wildlife sanctuaries(AP)
Former Florida Senator Bob Graham is to lead an investigation into the Gulf of Mexico oil spill (AP)
A boat pulls a boom into the Gulf of Mexico in a bid to stem leaking oil
A worker feeds a boom into the Gulf of Mexico in a bid to contain the oil spill
Oil is continuing to leak into the Gulf of Mexico
Oil in the Gulf of Mexico after the rig blew up and sank
Oil is gushing from a broken pipe into the Gulf of Mexico
Support ships in oily water near the Gulf of Mexico oil spill
Video footage shows oil gushing from a pipe in the Gulf of Mexico
Vessels try to contain the oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico
A boat moves through oily water at the site of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico
Helicopters drop sandbags to try and stem an oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico
BP is trying to stem the spread of an oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico
Oil from the leaking Deep Horizon oil rig swirls in the Gulf of Mexico (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
An oil soaked bird struggles against side of a ship in the Gulf of Mexico (AP)
Oil seen from an aerial view at the Deepwater Horizon oil spill site in the Gulf of Mexico (AP/US Navy)
A boat works to collect oil that has leaked from the Deepwater Horizon wellhead in the Gulf of Mexico

US president Barack Obama served notice yesterday that if an independent investigation into the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico finds that laws were broken then “we will bring those responsible to justice”.

The share price of BP dropped by another dizzying 13% yesterday, causing alarm far beyond the oil industry.

Mr Obama’s statement, made in the Rose Garden alongside the heads of the investigative commission he established last week, was another ominous turn for BP as it struggles to find a way to plug the catastrophic leak.

It underscored how quickly Mr Obama is now distancing himself from the London-based energy giant even as the federal government continues to rely upon its technical expertise to bring the well under control.

It is thought that as much as 19,000 barrels of oil are now spewing from the ruptured well daily. There were fresh warnings last night that south-westerly breezes in the Gulf threaten to bring heavy parts of the slick to the shores of Mississippi and Alabama by week's end. Florida is also braced for possible damage to its beaches.

The panel created by Mr Obama to probe the leak is being led by former Senator Bob Graham and the ex-head of the Environmental Protection Agency, William Reilly. “They have my full support to follow the facts wherever they lead, without fear or favour,” Mr Obama said, adopting an unusually assertive tone.

“If our laws were broken, leading to this death and destruction, my solemn pledge is that we will bring those responsible to justice.”

The beleaguered BP group's shares collapsed after efforts to plug the leak with a “top kill” of ultra-heavy drilling failed and BP admitted the catastrophe has cost it $990m (£674m) so far.

BP has now seen £42bn wiped off its value since the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in April killed 11 people and unleashed the biggest oil slick in US

history. Yesterday BP engineers were manoeuvring robots 5,000ft down on the sea floor in yet another scheme to shut off the well.

The latest plan is to saw off the top of the leaking pipe from the broken “blow-out preventer” on the top of the well.

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