HOUSTON/COCODRIE, La.--President Barack Obama will create a presidential commission to probe the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and energy giant BP said on Monday it had "turned the corner" in its efforts to contain it.
London-based BP said its latest "quick fix"--a mile-long siphon tube deployed by undersea robots down to the leaking well--was capturing about a fifth of the oil leaking from the ruptured well. Officials cautioned that the tube is helping contain the oil but will not stop the flow.
"I do feel that we have, for the first time, turned the corner in this challenge," BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward said in Florida.
BP's stock rose more than 2 percent in London on the news but later shed its gains.
Investors have knocked $30 billion off BP's value over the spill, which followed the April 20 rig explosion that killed 11 workers and the fallout it faces is ramping up.
The commission, which Obama will establish with an executive order, will be similar to those that looked into the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger in 1986 and the Three Mile Island nuclear accident in 1979, an official said.
It will investigate issues related to the spill and its aftermath, including rig safety and regulatory regimes at the local, state, and federal levels.
The federal government's oversight role, environmental protections, and the "structure and functions" of the Minerals Management Service, the Interior Department agency that has been heavily criticized for its regulatory practices, also will be on the panel's agenda.
With a shakeup of the agency imminent, Chris Oynes, the top official overseeing its offshore oil and gas drilling, announced he would retire at the end of the month.
Still, lawmakers and Gulf Coast residents braced for an ecological disaster that could eclipse the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill off Alaska's coast. … Read more