New Orleans, Louisiana (CNN) — Environmentalists plan to stage a worldwide protest against BP on Saturday as the petroleum giant takes hits from politicians and Gulf residents.
Worldwide BP Protest Day claims demonstrations will take place in more than 50 cities across five continents from Pensacola, Florida, to Christchurch, New Zealand.
“Let the world know YOU care,” says a flyer on the group’s Facebook page, which translates BP’s initials to mean British Predator. “We need to let BP know that we are NOT okay with what they are putting in OUR oceans.”
The protests come as politicians and Gulf residents slammed BP on Friday over its efforts to end the spew of oil into the Gulf of Mexico and make whole those who have been hurt.
“BP misrepresented what their technology could do,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday. “They misrepresented the amount of oil that was being spewed forth into the Gulf and continued to do so.”
She was referring to Thursday’s announcement by researchers that doubled estimates of how much oil has been gushing from the ruptured well: About 40,000 barrels (1.7 million gallons) a day may have escaped for weeks.
Pelosi said she met with President Obama on the matter and was pleased to hear that he had ordered the attorney general to look into whether there was negligence on BP’s part.
“This is a matter of integrity,” Pelosi said. “BP stated that they had the technology to drill deep, to prevent a blowout and that they had the technology to clean up, and none of these things happened to be a fact.”
But the multibillion-dollar, multinational company found support for its efforts. In New York, that support came from billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
“The guy that runs BP didn’t exactly go down there and blow up the well,” he told a radio program. “And what’s more, if you want them to fix it and they are the ones with the expertise, I think I might wait to assign blame until we get it fixed.”
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In London, England, a Downing Street spokesman said Prime Minister David Cameron spoke Friday with BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg.
“The prime minister explained that he was frustrated and concerned about the environmental damage caused by the leak, but made clear his view that BP is an economically important company in the UK, US and other countries,” the spokesman said in a news release.
“He said that it is in everyone’s interests that BP continues to be a financially strong and stable company.”
Svanberg, who is to meet Wednesday with Obama at the White House, “made clear that BP will continue to do all that it can to stop the oil spill, clean up the damage and meet all legitimate claims for compensation,” it said.
British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg appealed for a reduction in the vitriol that has gripped many observers. “I don’t, frankly, think we’re going to reach a solution stopping the release of oil into the Gulf any quicker by allowing this to spiral into a tit-for-tat political, diplomatic spat,” he said.
That comment elicited no sympathy from Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser. “Obviously, Nick hasn’t been over here and touched the oil,” he told CNN. “We get a tropical storm that brings that oil and lays it across coastal Louisiana, we’re wiped out for the next 20 years. This community will be dead, and they’re talking like we’re being too tough?”
By law, the company is responsible for paying all the costs to stop the leak and clean the oil off the shore. That’s likely to be the small bill: in the single-digit billions.
A bigger concern will be claims of economic damage from fishermen, hoteliers and other businesses who report losses. BP has said it will pay “all reasonable claims” but has been vague on what “reasonable” means.
BP said that nearly 42,000 claims have been submitted and more than 20,000 payments made, totaling more than $53 million.
So far, the cost of the response is $1.43 billion, it said.
Lawmakers want to make sure the company has enough money not only to remove the oil but to reimburse residents for lost wages and other damage to the economy.
BP has argued that the company has plenty of money to do both. Executives noted last week that BP had a cash flow last year exceeding $30 billion.
The government’s response manager offered a new round of numbers as well on what it takes to clean a spill of this magnitude: an Exxon Valdez-like spill every few days that has now gone on for 55 days.
Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said that more than 25,000 people — contractors, volunteers and members of the military — were involved on the ground.
Some 3.8 million gallons of oil burned, he said. About 1 million gallons of dispersant has been used to break up the slick. That has taken more than 500 skimmers, barges, ships and aircraft.
Piecemeal efforts to slow the flow are continuing.
As early as Monday, BP plans to deploy “Q4000 Direct Connect,” the company’s name for a containment device secondary to a primary cap that was put in place over the leaking well last week.
Allen has said he expects that the Q4000 will be able to take an additional 5,000 to 10,000 barrels per day.
A second Transocean drill ship is expected to arrive in mid- to late June, bringing an added capacity of 10,000 barrels per day, the company said.
By mid-July, the current cap will be replaced with a larger device that will provide a tighter seal, the company said.
The cap will be connected to another manifold and hose system to a free-floating riser 300 feet below sea level. The hose attached to the riser will connect with the containment vessel on the surface, giving cleanup workers the option of disconnecting from and then reconnecting to the riser should the ships need to return to port in the event of a hurricane.
The riser would remain in place at all times. This system could contain up to 50,000 barrels per day, according to BP.
The ultimate containment plan would insert mud and cement 18,000 feet under the seabed, effectively stopping the flow of oil, the company said.
Two such wells, one of which would be a backup, are under way and are slated for completion in August.
Meanwhile, a delegation of U.S. senators traveled Friday to the heart of coastal Louisiana to assess the damage.
“Until you see if firsthand, until you really smell it, get a sense of it, you can’t understand it fully,” said Sen. David Vitter, R-Louisiana.
They were the latest in a virtual parade of officials from Washington to make the trip to the coast. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis was in the region Thursday, and Obama is scheduled to make his fourth trip next week.