VENICE, La. – The giant British oil company BP LLC, whose deep-water well is gushing thousands of gallons of oil daily into the Gulf of Mexico, said Monday that it was “absolutely responsible” for stopping the leak, cleaning up the oil on the water’s surface and any resulting environmental damage.
“This is not our accident, but it’s our responsibility,” BP’s chief executive, Tony Hayward, said in a round of news media appearances. “And where there are legitimate claims for business interruption, we will make them good.
The oil spill, which occurred at a well 50 miles off shore and a mile beneath the surface, continued to cover a massive area of the Gulf, threatening coastal areas of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, where work crews had fanned out to install barricades.
But a change in wind direction Monday appeared to be keeping the slick off shore, and winds were expected to continue blowing out to sea at least through today.
Meanwhile, in a sign of eroding political support for off-shore drilling, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger withdrew his support Monday for a plan to allow new wells to be drilled from an existing platform off the coast of Santa Barbara.
The governor had been a proponent of the Tranquillon Ridge project, which could generate $140 million to help prevent cutbacks in the state parks budget. Despite the governor’s support, the project stalled amid opposition from lawmakers and the state Lands Commission, which has jurisdiction over such oil leases.
“You turn on television and you see this enormous disaster. You say to yourself, ‘Why would we want to take that risk?’ ” Schwarzenegger said Monday. “So the risk is just much greater than the money is worth.”
In the Gulf, BP took pains Monday to highlight the furious efforts it was making to stop the leak and battle the oil pouring into the ocean at the rate of at least 200,000 gallons a day.
Hayward said the company had deployed “an enormous operation on the surface to contain” the spill. Crews worked late into the night Monday to install a shutoff valve on a piece of broken pipe about 800 feet from the well head.