A summary of events on Sunday, June 13, Day 54 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.
OIL SPILL FUND
President Barack Obama will demand that BP create a special account with "substantial" reserves to pay oil claims and will take other steps aimed at aiding the region, his top political adviser said. Obama, set to visit the Gulf Coast on Monday and Tuesday, also plans an Oval Office address Tuesday night after his return to Washington. He meets at the White House with BP executives, including the oil company's chairman, on Wednesday. BP's board was to meet on Monday to discuss deferring its second-quarter dividend and putting the money into escrow until the company's liabilities from the spill are known. "We're aware of the request," BP spokeswoman Sheila Williams said in London.
Undersea sensors were deployed the ruptured well in an effort to better track the amount of oil gushing into the sea. New estimates say the blown-out well could have been spewing as much as 2 million gallons of crude a day before a cut-and-cap maneuver earlier this month started capturing some of the flow. BP spokesman Jon Pack said undersea robots were attempting to install the sensors within the containment cap that sits over the well. Once the sensors are in place, Adm. Thad Allen, the Obama administration's point man on the oil spill, said they will start taking pressure readings to validate the flow rate estimates.
The effort to drill two relief wells more than 3 miles below the surface to end the oil spill has exposed problems and questions the regulation and safety of the process. That includes the fact that BP took more than 12 days to begin the well because the government did not require the company to have a relief well plan in place ahead of time. BP says the relief well has been a success and ahead of schedule, though the gaps in the relief well process mirror other regulatory issues and oversights that have been exposed since the rig exploded.
Beaches in Orange Beach, Ala., where large amounts of crude and tar balls washed ashore on Saturday, were mostly clean after crews worked through the night and in the early morning clearing the oil. Clear plastic bags sat in piles, full of sand and tar balls, and some empty stretches of beach were still littered with grapefruit sized tar patties.
Winds continued to blow two patchy, orange oil plumes from the spill toward the white sands of the western Florida Panhandle as skimmers worked to collect the crude before it came ashore. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection said one of the slicks is as close as 3 miles south of Pensacola Pass, an inlet next to a stretch of the Gulf Islands National Seashore and the tourist hotels of Pensacola Beach.