Battle to plug BP leak resumes as storm recedes

SHIPS were getting back in place yesterday at the Gulf of Mexico site of BP’s leaky oil well as crews raced to resume work on plugging the gusher before another big storm stops work again.

Now that Tropical Storm Bonnie has fizzled on Louisiana’s coast, engineers are hoping clear weather lasts long enough for them to finish their work on relief wells. But as peak hurricane season approaches, the potential for another storm-related delay is high.

“We’re going to be playing a cat-and-mouse game for the remainder of the hurricane season,” retired Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen said on Saturday.

Another disturbance was brewing in the Caribbean, although forecasters said it wasn’t likely to strengthen into a tropical storm. Completion now looks possible by mid-August, but Allen said he wouldn’t hesitate to order another evacuation.

Meanwhile, British media reported that BP chief executive Tony Hayward was negotiating the terms of his departure ahead of the company’s half-year results announcement tomorrow.

Citing unidentified sources, the BBC and Sunday Telegraph reported detailed talks regarding Hayward’s future took place over the weekend. A formal announcement was expected in the next 24 hours, the BBC reported.

BP spokesman Toby Odone said yesterday that Hayward “remains BP’s chief executive, and he has the confidence of the board and senior management”.

Hayward, who angered Americans by minimising the spill’s environmental impact and saying “I’d like my life back,” has been under heavy criticism over his gaffe-prone leadership during the spill.


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