Fresh from admonishing BP before the world, President Barack Obama now gets his moment with the oil company's leaders. Obama's showdown at the White House on Wednesday with BP executives will be his first direct encounter with them since one of their oil wells blew out off the Louisiana coast nearly 60 days ago, killing 11 workers and releasing a so-far unstoppable geyser of oil. BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg was invited and encouraged to bring other officials. The top BP executives, including Tony Hayward, were seen heading into the West Wing at mid-morning.
BP began burning oil siphoned from the ruptured well as part of its plans to more than triple the amount of crude it can stop from reaching the sea, the company said. BP PLC said oil and gas siphoned from the well first reached a semi-submersible drilling rig on the ocean surface around 1 a.m. Once that gas reaches the rig, it will be mixed with compressed air, shot down a specialized boom made by Schlumberger Ltd. and ignited at sea. It's the first time this particular burner has been deployed in the Gulf of Mexico.
The cost of an escrow fund for those hurt by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill would be enormous. The White House insists is has the legal authority to make it happen, and on Wednesday BP agreed to place $20 billion in escrow for victims of the spill, as reported by the New York Times. Still, administration officials also acknowledge a negotiation is at play here, and key issues remain unsolved. Among them: Who will oversee the escrow fund, who will make that decision, how large will the fund be and whether BP will pay the salaries of oil workers idled by a six-month moratorium on new deep-water oil drilling. BP declined to offer details about what proposals it would bring to the meeting or any reaction to Obama's biting words.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said BP will need certainty about how much it will have to pay to meet "reasonable claims" for damage caused by its leaking well after Obama vowed in a speech from the White House on Tuesday night to make the company shoulder the consequences. Cameron, interviewed in BBC radio, said that in his weekend telephone conversation with Obama he had stressed the need for clarity.
Restoring the Gulf Coast
After 50 years of watching wetlands created by the fertile Mississippi River turn into open water, Louisiana residents finally got what they'd long awaited: A U.S. president saying he'll fight to save what little is left along their eroding coast. Though details were vague, President Barack Obama's pledge to restore the Gulf Coast's degraded coast line has multibillion-dollar implications for the region's culture and economy and could preserve wildlife endangered by the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. In an Oval Office address Tuesday night, Obama said he was committed to making sure southern Louisiana, which is hemorrhaging a football field of marshland every 38 minutes, and other coastlines are saved.