US & Canada

BP boss Dudley says oil clean-up will be scaled back

Incoming BP chief executive Bob Dudley has said it is time to scale back some parts of the oil spill clean-up in the Gulf of Mexico.

Virtually no oil has been released into the Gulf since a new cap was closed on 15 July.

And skimming crews have reported only tiny quantities of oil out at sea.

But Mr Dudley insisted BP's commitment to tackling the environmental damage would continue, saying: "We'll be here for years."

"You will see the evidence of a pullback because we have booms across the shores all the way from Florida to Louisiana. Those only last for a certain number of tide cycles," Mr Dudley told reporters in Biloxi, Mississippi.

"And where there is no oil on the beaches you probably don't need people walking up and down in Hazmat suits. So you'll probably see that kind of a pullback. But commitment, absolutely no pullback."

Mr Dudley also provided an update on efforts to permanently seal the well.

The "static kill" procedure is likely to be done on Tuesday. Mud will be pumped into the top of the well, followed by cement.

This procedure will help with the permanent "kill", again using mud and cement, that will be done once a relief well is finished. This will happen by the end of August, Mr Dudley said.

The government's incident commander, Adm Thad Allen, said the "static kill" was being delayed by the presence of debris in the relief well after the recent storm-induced break in operations.

BP has just reported a record $17bn (£11bn) loss, having set aside $32bn to cover the costs of the spill.

On 20 April, the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers and causing an oil spill that soon became the worst environmental disaster in US history.

Workers will be pulled back from clear beaches

For three months, a massive slick has threatened the shores of Louisiana and other southern Gulf Coast states.

Meanwhile, BP has appointed the crisis management consulting firm Witt Associates to help in its efforts. The firm is run by former Federal Emergency Management Agency boss James Lee Witt.

BP has also announced more details about its $100m charitable fund to support rig workers left unemployed because of the federal government's deepwater drilling moratorium.