A summary of events on Saturday, June 12, Day 53 of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill that began with the April 20 explosion and fire on the drilling rig Deepwater Horizon, owned by Transocean Ltd. and leased by BP PLC, which is in charge of cleanup and containment. The blast killed 11 workers. Since then, oil has been pouring into the Gulf from a blown-out undersea well.
The federal government has asked BP in a letter to "speed up the process" of containing the huge amounts of oil gushing from a ruptured well. Coast Guard Rear Adm. James A. Watson sent a letter to BP officials on Friday expressing frustration with the overall pace of the effort. He also ordered the company in the letter released Saturday to identify ways to expedite the process in the next 48 hours. BP has struggled with several efforts to contain the oil. The latest cap installed on the blown-out well is capturing about 650,000 gallons of oil a day, but large quantities are still spilling into the sea.
President Barack Obama reassured Prime Minister David Cameron that his frustration over the oil spill is not an attack on Britain as the two leaders tried to soothe trans-Atlantic tensions over the disaster. Cameron's office said the two leaders held a "warm and constructive" telephone conversation for more than 30 minutes. Cameron's office said the prime minister "expressed his sadness at the ongoing human and environmental catastrophe," but stressed BP's economic importance. It said Obama recognized that BP is a multinational company, "and that frustrations about the oil spill had nothing to do with national identity."
Along the Gulf Coast, Alabama's beaches took their worst hit yet from the oil spill on as brown crude slathered beaches along the coast. On the beach, pools of crude oil as much as 4 inches deep hit the beach in waves, and the surf was a dark, ugly shade of brown. No one was in the water, and the beaches that normally are packed with people this time of year were virtually deserted. Stinking, dark piles of oil dried in the hot sun, extending as much as 12 feet from the water's edge for as far as the eye could see.
U.S. shrimpers who comb seas unaffected by the oil-slickened Gulf are raising prices as demand for their catch rises, bringing a potential respite from some tough years. Fishermen in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Texas, whose waters have not been affected by oil, say prices for their shrimp have gone up as processing plants that normally buy Gulf seafood turn to other docks for their supply. The federal government has declared fishery disasters for Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, which could bring emergency payments for commercial fishermen.