Efforts to clean up the Gulf of Mexico oil spill resumed yesterday after Hurricane Alex prompted a five-day shutdown, amid new questions over how BP would pay for the mounting costs.
Cleanup workers arrived back and skimming operations resumed in Louisiana but high seas kept vessels tied up in harbor in three other states and no controlled burns were being carried out. Officials said other operations to fend off the spill were back on track.
In the wake of Hurricane Alex, beaches, shorelines and marshes lay smeared with thick patches of oil and the sky was still filled with ominous, gray clouds.
“This is definitely the most oil I’ve seen. So far,” said one worker who declined to give his name.
BP now hopes the giant Taiwanese supertanker A Whale can exponentially boost the amount of oil and water mix being scooped up from the surface of the Gulf.
The ship was able to show off its maneuverability during a weekend test in a patch of water just north of the site where an April 20 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon. However, stiff winds and choppy seas prevented tests of a containment boom system designed to direct greater volumes of oily water into the ship’s 12 vents or “jaws,” said a spokesman for TMT, the shipping firm that owns the vessel.
Meanwhile, as it faces a massive bill for its efforts to clean up the oily mess — up to US$60 billion by some estimates — BP is turning to rival oil groups and sovereign wealth funds to fend off a possible hostile takeover bid.
The National, a newspaper based in Abu Dhabi, reported that sovereign wealth funds in the Middle East have proposed making a strategic investment in BP, which has pledged to place US$20 billion in an escrow account to pay for the Gulf cleanup. The firms were also allegedly mulling buying key assets from BP and financially backing any capital BP might plan to raise.
Britain’s Sunday Times said BP was seeking a strategic investor to buy between a 5 percent and 10 percent stake in it with a price tag of up to US$9.1 billion.
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