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Chief executive Tony Hayward’s comments have done little to aid attempts at damage limitation

The public relations strategy for dealing with a disaster such as the Gulf of Mexico spill, now officially the worst in US history, was always going to be about damage limitation. With each failure to stem the flow, BP’s credibility has taken another blow.

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BP CEO Tony Hayward surveys the recovery operations

BP Shares Fall Drastically on Spill Fears

LONDON — BP revealed Tuesday that the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico had cost it almost a billion dollars, sparking a 13-percent plunge in its shares after the latest attempt to fix the leaking well failed.

At its lowest point, the British energy giant’s share price dropped nearly 17 percent on the day, but it recovered slightly to close at 430 pence, down 13.1 percent. The sell-off wiped more than 12 billion pounds off its market value — its biggest one-day shares fall for 18 years.

There was more bad news for BP following the failure of the “top kill” operation to plug the undersea well when US President Barack Obama warned that the culprits of the disaster would be held legally accountable.

Spill Draws Criminal Probe

WALL ST JOURNAL – The U.S. has launched criminal and civil investigations into the Gulf of Mexico oil spill—the latest move by the Obama administration to show it is taking aggressive action amid bipartisan criticism of its response to the disaster.

“We have what we think is a sufficient basis for us to have begun a criminal investigation,” said U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Tuesday after meeting in New Orleans with state attorneys general and federal prosecutors from the region. Mr. Holder noted that 11 people died in the April 20 rig accident that precipitated the spill.

imageNOAA Research Ship to Search Gulf for  Underwater Oil

MIAMI HERALD – With mystery swirling over how much oil may be lurking beneath the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, a research vessel leaves Wednesday on a nine-day mission: To find and study a potentially toxic stew that oceanographers fear could be catastrophic for marine life.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Thomas Jefferson, one of the most technologically advanced vessels for finding hazards on the seafloor, has been diverted from a recent trip to map the ocean floor off Galveston, Texas, to the belching Deepwater Horizon oil leak.

The 208-foot, 36-person ship has been equipped with a variety of methods to detect oil. Smith said researchers have some idea how the sensors may react, he but added, “We don’t know for sure, because we don’t know the form it might take, and we’ve never done it before.”

Will the ‘Sweeping Arm System’ from the Dutch Help?image

The Dutch government is supplying six sweeping arm systems for the BP oil spill.

The technology involves a skimmer that picks up oil and water and then separates the two.

The Dutch government is giving BP officials in the Gulf of Mexico advanced oil recovery technology it says will be more effective than previous efforts.

The technology, called the sweeping arm system, was developed by the Dutch in the early 1970s and has been used to successfully combat oil spills – including high-profile disasters involving the Sea Empress, off the coast of Wales, in 1996; and the Prestige, off the coast of Spain, in 2002.

On Sunday, the Dutch sent six such systems by airfreight to Houston. They’re also sending a six-member team that can reassemble the parts, load them onto tankers, and train a workforce from T&T Marine – a Galveston, Texas, contractor that BP hired to lead the emergency response effort. The operation should be ready for the BP oil spill in 10 days, says Sjon Huisman, an adviser with the Netherlands’s Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management.

BP Makes First Cut in Latest Attempt to Contain Oil Spill

image British Petroleum is trying another method to contain the oil and bring it to the surface by sawing through the leaking pipe and putting a cap over the spill, the Associated Press reports.

Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said Tuesday that the company was making its first major cut with super sheers that weigh 46,000 pounds. The company will also use a cutter to try to make a clean cut above the blowout preventer, then will lower a cap over it with a rubber seal, the story says. It could be at least three days before oil is brought to the surface, Allen told the AP.

BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles said there was no guarantee the cut-and-cap effort would work.

Financial Times: Oil Spill Politics

image With no immediate end in sight to the calamity in the Gulf of Mexico, President Barack Obama and his team are coming under increasing criticism. In trying to contain the political damage, the White House must avoid submitting to this pressure and making a bad situation worse.

Much of the criticism is both incoherent and unfair. Even erstwhile allies are attacking Mr Obama for calmness in a crisis. Many demand more fury – often while admitting that the government is doing all it usefully can. The White House should leave impotent rage to editorial writers and television pundits. The same goes for empathy, a trait Mr Obama is said to lack. It is difficult to believe that on-air weeping would do much for his standing, or for Louisiana’s coastline.

CNN: In Gulf States, Oil Spill Darkens Fears This Hurricane Season

imageWhen you live in a coastal community, this is the time that the knot in your stomach begins. It’s the anxiety that comes with pulling out your home insurance policy and placing it inside your supply box with flashlights, batteries and maybe a can of tuna.

In Louisiana and the other Gulf Coast states, residents fear this year’s storms will be darker with oil.

“We don’t want to scare anybody, but we need to be realistic about it,” said Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser.

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“I stopped the Oil Spill, I’m King of the WORLDDDD!”

WTF of the Day: Feds Consult ‘Avatar’ Director Cameron

There was also news today that the federal government has been reaching out to a surprising source for expertise on the spill — Hollywood director James Cameron.

The “Avatar” and “Titanic” mastermind and other scientists met today with EPA and other federal officials for a brainstorming session on ways to stop the spewing oil leak.

Cameron is considered an expert on underwater filming and remote vehicle technologies, with skills honed while filming the debris of the Titanic on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

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