BP Stops Awarding Contracts for Oil Skimmers, Protective Boom

BP tried the "top hat," the "junk shot" and the "top kill," but with the success of its new cap on the busted well in the Gulf of Mexico, it looks like the oil giant is now trying out a Job Kill.

BP has suddenly stopped awarding contracts for oil skimmers and protective boom to combat the spill in the Gulf, leaving hundreds of contractors out of work, an industry source told Fox News.

DRC Group, which has more than 480 vessels in the Gulf laying boom and skimming crude in shallow waters, let go about 50 percent of its workers this week after BP changed course, the source said.

The Alabama-based emergency contractors have been employing more than 750 fishermen, oystermen and oil response technicians since the spill began and have laid 100 miles of boom to prevent oil from reaching the vulnerable shoreline.

But after 85 days of crisis work, BP finally capped its broken well last week, and appears to have changed its calculus in contracting work to manage the effects of the spill, the source said.

There is still an enormous amount of oil in the water to be skimmed or contained with boom, but the source suggested they are backing off on those efforts. Many fishermen who have been employed in oil cleanup projects had been otherwise driven out of work by the oil spill.

BP never signed contracts more than five days out because it didn't want to be left with outstanding liabilities if the situation at sea changed abruptly, the source said.

Fox News' Jim Angle contributed to this report.