Obama slams BP, says ‘way too early’ for optimism

June 5th, 2010 - 5:31 am ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama Washington, June 5 (DPA) US President Barack Obama said BP was making progress in capping the massive oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, but slammed the British energy firm for delaying claims payments to local fisherman while it hands out billions to investors.
Obama Friday said BP had made “some progress” by placing a containment cap over the marine riser pipe that is gushing oil into the Gulf, but said it was “way too early to be optimistic” about the effort.

Making his third visit to Louisiana since the oil disaster began more than six weeks ago, Obama demanded BP fulfil its obligations to local fishing businesses that have been forced to stop operating because of the widening oil slick.

Under pressure from critics to get tougher with BP, Obama slammed reports that BP was planning a $50-million advertising campaign to salvage its reputation and dividend payments to investors worth $10.25 billion.

“What I don’t want to hear is, when they’re spending that kind of money on shareholders … that they’re nickle-and-diming fishermen or small businesses here in the Gulf who are having a hard time,” Obama said.

Obama said there were signs that the local community was “starting to experience problems” getting claims through BP and urged the company to “make sure the claims are being processed quickly and fairly”.

BP was working through Friday to seal the “top cap” and close valves that would help it capture most of the oil and siphon it to a drill ship about 1.6 km above on the surface. Engineers were moving slowly, aware that a similar effort weeks ago had failed.

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