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With the company’s public credibility in the US at rock-bottom and with President Barack Obama openly challenging the competence of Tony Hayward, its CEO, BP is retreating into its bunker and acknowledging that Admiral Allen is in charge.
The burly, mustachioed commander – who was one of the few federal officials to emerge from the 2005 Hurricane Katrina response with his reputation enhanced – now dominates the daily briefings. At the start of the crisis, these briefings were joint affairs between the company and the government that were dominated by Doug Suttles, BP’s chief operating officer.
In those early weeks of the crisis, before the US media and public became familiar with “top hats”, “top kills”, riser pipes and flow ratios, government spokesmen invariably deferred to Mr Suttles’ expertise. Rear-Admiral Mary Landry was removed as government spokeswoman at the start of June, although the administration said it was a planned reassignment. There had been public criticism, however, that she had been too ready to accept BP’s assurances.
Since then, Admiral Allen has moved front of stage and appears to have captured a public mood that sees no reason to give BP the benefit of the doubt.
It plans to mobilise up to 170 local fishing boats which will tow platforms holding a device with the membrane attached into the sea.
Ultra Green estimates that its invention can soak up 25,000 gallons of oil a day down to a depth of five metres.