The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that followed an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig is now considered the largest in US offshore history. Here is a chronology of the spill and its impact.
BP is back in the spotlight after a damning report from a US presidential commission, which accuses BP of taking “short cuts” which led to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster.
The UK Energy and Climate Change Select Committee also hears evidence on deepwater drilling. It says companies have been “cutting and pasting” their plans for disasters without tailoring their responses to individual wells.
Kenneth Feinberg, administrator of BP’s fund for victims, encourages claimants to file early for final settlements to get the most generous terms.
BP increases its estimate of the likely cost of its Gulf of Mexico oil spill to $40bn from $32bn.
The Gulf Coast Claims Facility, created to compensate people and businesses, says it has paid $1.55bn in claims since it took over the process from BP on August 23.
Halliburton, the oilfield services company that cemented the blown-out well, says a BP report laying the blame on the cement job offers a questionable account of events and “erroneous conclusions”.
BP permanently “kills” the leaking well. Researchers later put the total damage of the spill at 4.4m barrels of oil.
BP’s relief well intercepts the Macondo well.
In an internal report into the Deepwater Horizon disaster, BP blamed poor cement job, mistakes by contractors and sequence of other errors for the worst oil spill in US history.
BP wins permission from the US government to start pumping cement into the well, the next stage in permanently plugging the source of the spill.
The US government announces that three quarters of the oil that has leaked into the Gulf of Mexico has been cleaned up or broken down by natural forces.
BP says it has finally managed to halt the flow of oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico but that the problem will not be completely resolved until a relief well is drilled.
Tests on the cap resume. BP’s US share price rise 8pc after it announces that it has stopped its Gulf of Mexico leak for the first time since April.
Tests begin on the new cap, but are delayed for ‘additional analysis’.
BP successfully installs the new cap, known as Top Hat 10, which it hopes will contain all the oil, until relief wells are completed in August that will sort out the problem for good.
BP removes a cap installed on June 4, which was leaking oil because it had to be fitted over a jagged cut in the well pipe, in anticipation of putting on a new cap. This means oil escapes unhindered into the Gulf for some 48 hours.
A federal appeals court rejects the Obama administration’s effort to restore an offshore deepwater drilling moratorium, opening the door for drilling in the Gulf of Mexico to resume while the legal fight continues.
Tests show tar balls washed up on the Texas coast are from the spill, meaning every US Gulf state – Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and now Texas – has been soiled by the spill.
Summer storms push oil from the Gulf of Mexico spill deeper into Louisiana’s wetlands and temporarily slow efforts to contain damage. The storms are also responsible for washing oil into Lake Pontchartrain, bordering New Orleans, further polluting Mississippi’s beaches and halting tests on a supertanker adapted to skim large quantities of oil from the surface.
BP says that the cost of the spill has reached $3.12bn.
A supertanker converted into a “super skimmer” begins tests. The vessel can remove up to 500,000 barrels of oil and water from the sea surface a day.
BP shares gain, with traders initially citing talk, quickly shot down, that it had capped the leaking well.
Hurricane Alex , later downgraded to a tropical storm, moves slowly in Gulf waters, disrupting the cleanup, and threatening to push more oily water onshore. President Obama formally directs officials to draw up a long-term economic and environmental plan to help the Gulf Coast region get back on its feet after the oil spill.
Russia’s deputy prime minister said he expected Hayward to resign soon.
A US judge refuses to put on hold his decision to lift a ban on deepwater drilling imposed after the spill.
Hayward hands day-to-day control of the spill operation to Bob Dudley – a reflection, says BP, of the need for the CEO to return to other aspects of the business.
Internal BP document released by US congressman shows BP estimates that a worst-case scenario rate could be 100,000 barrels a day. This is far higher than the US government estimate of 60,000 barrels a day.
Anadarko Petroleum, part owner of the gushing well, says BP’s behavior before the blowout was “reckless” and likely represented “gross negligence or willful misconduct” that would affect obligations of the well owners under their operating agreement.
Hayward faces the wrath of US lawmakers as he appears before a congressional hearing. He apologizes for the spill and says everything is being done to stop it. Members of Congress accuse BP of cutting corners for the sake of profit.
David Cameron calls for the company to be protected from excessive compensation claims after Barack Obama makes it agree to potentially unlimited damages.
The company suspends dividend payments for the rest of the year. It also agrees to finance a $20bn (£13.5bn) clean-up and compensation fund.
Barack Obama uses a televised address to accuse the British oil giant of “recklessness” and announces the appointment of Ray Mabus, Secretary of the Navy, as his new “oil tsar” for the region.
International ratings agency Fitch slashes BP’s credit rating six notches from “AA” to ‘near junk’ “BBB” rating.
Shares fall as much as nine per cent in Monday trading after President Obama compares the oil spill’s impact to that of the 9/11 terror attacks.
He says: “In the same way that our view of our vulnerabilities and our foreign policy was shaped profoundly by 9/11…I think this disaster is going to shape how we think about the environment and energy for many years to come.”
Barack Obama demands more money from BP to meet the cost of handling the crisis, ahead of a meeting of the BP board where a decision will be taken over whether to freeze dividend payouts.
David Cameron and Barack Obama hold their first conversation about the spillage, and the President assures the Prime Minister during a 30-minute telephone discussion that his public criticism of the company has “nothing to do with national identity”.
David Cameron tells BP chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg during a telephone conversation that it is in everyone’s interest for the company to remain financially stable and strong.
It came after Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, warned against allowing the disaster to descend into a “tit for tat political diplomatic spat”.
The US government signals it will take legal action to force BP to stop paying a dividend to shareholders. The company’s shares tumble.
David Cameron refuses to defend the company in the wake of Barack Obama’s attack, saying he “completely understands” the American government’s frustration.
John Napier, the chairman of insurer RSA, writes to Barack Obama to criticise his “prejudicial” approach to BP and urges him to stop his relentless criticism of the company.
BP buys the top Google and Yahoo! search result for terms like “oil spill” in a bid to recover its public image.
Obama is accused of holding “his boot on the throat” of British pensioners after his attacks on BP are blamed for wiping billions off the company’s value.
The firm’s share price falls a further 17.35p to 391.55p representing a 40 per cent drop on the 655p price of a share two months ago.
Norway bans new deepwater oil drilling in the North Sea in a sign that panic over BP’s Gulf of Mexico spill is spreading.
Meanwhile, the US President attacks Mr Hayward, saying he should have been sacked for tactless comments made after the spill.
BP says a second containment system to stem the leak should be ready by “mid-June”, as costs of the clean-up rise to £860 million and the total share-price slump reaches 30 per cent.
BP shares tumble a further 15 per cent after it admits its “top kill” operation was unsuccessful. It emerges that the company has lost a quarter £30 billion of its market value since the explosion.
Meanwhile, documents emerge showing that the firm was given permission to drill in the Gulf of Mexico after promising it was equipped to deal with a spill 10 times larger than the current leak.
Eric Holder, the US Attorney General, announces he will visit the site of the spill for the first time on Tuesday, increasing speculation that a criminal investigation will be launched.
BP attempts a “top kill” operation to plug the spill. The company admits that the procedure has never before been attempted at such depths and its “ultimate success” is uncertain.
The total cost to the firm reaches around £638 million as Barack Obama states that BP would “pay every dime” for the damage caused and criticised the “cosy and sometimes corrupt” relationship between regulators and the oil industry.
Mr Hayward claims the environmental impact of the spill will be “very, very modest”. His reassurances coincide with the discovery of the first tar balls from the spill off Florida.
Experts begin to fear that currents could be directing a slick the size of Luxembourg towards US coastal areas.
The US government announces it is nearly tripling the size of an area in the Gulf of Mexico that is closed to fishing.
Shares rise as BP says it is capturing about a fifth of the estimated oil gushing from the ruptured well by using a pipe to divert it from the sea bed onto a ship.
James Dupree, BP’s senior vice president for the Gulf, admits during congressional hearings in the US that a safety valve protecting the oil well failed a key pressure test just hours before the explosion.
BP admits it has dramatically underestimated the cost of the leak and that it has already reached around £240 million.
Work begins on a drilling a relief well to isolate the leak as Tony Hayward, BP’s chief executive, indicates that the firm will seek compensation from Transocean.
The slump in BP share prices reaches 15 per cent as some experts predict the total compensation and clean-up bill could be around £10.6 billion.
One of the biggest oil containment operations ever attempted begins, with a flotilla of nearly 200 boats sent to tackle the spill.
City analysts including Morgan Stanley predict that the disaster could cost BP between £1 billion and £3 billion as shrimpers in the state of Louisiana file the first class-action lawsuits against BP and the platform’s owners.
BP reports that its first-quarter profits more than double to £3.65 billion following a rise in oil prices.
The US Coast Guard estimates that the rig is leaking oil at the rate of up to 8,000 barrels a day. Two remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs) are sent down to attempt to cap the well, but prove unsuccessful.
Another two ROVs are dispatched in an attempt to activate the blowout preventer a giant series of pipes and valves that could staunch the leak but again prove unsuccessful.
April 20, 2010
An explosion on the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico, around 40 miles south east of Louisiana, kills 11 workers and injures 17 others.
The rig is owned and operated by Transocean, a company hired by BP to carry out the drilling work.