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BP exec defends oil rig disaster efforts

May 2, 2010 at 5:20 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, May 2 (UPI) -- A high-level BP executive said Sunday an oil containment dome is six to eight days from being put in place at the Gulf of Mexico oil rig disaster site.

Speaking on ABC's "This Week," Lamar McKay, chairman and president of BP America, called the April 20 explosion that left 11 workers dead, others injured and an oil spill threatening stretches of the Gulf Coast "a tragic event" of "enormous proportion."

McKay said the company is working "aggressively" in partnership with the government to stop the ongoing leak of crude oil that has reached the Gulf Coast, contain and collect the already-leaked oil and clean up those areas onshore that become contaminated.

The BP executive said the containment dome has been fabricated.

"The engineering is being finalized to get that mobilized and deployed," he said. "That will probably be in six to eight days, we'll have that deployed."

He said the company is working to try to activate the wellhead's blowout preventer, which he called "a piece of evidently failed equipment."

"And as you can imagine, this is like doing open-heart surgery at 5,000 feet, with -- in the dark, with robot-controlled submarines," he said.

McKay said determining how much oil is leaking -- estimates range from 5,000 to 25,000 barrels per day -- is something "you can't measure in any way accurately."

Asked to respond to criticism that BP's response to the disaster has been inadequate, McKay said "... I think the partnership that we've got between industry and the government has rallied an effort that is unprecedented in size, and I think that that effort is actually working pretty well."

Asked whether corporate efforts to save money may have led to the disaster, McKay said "investigations are going to show the cause of this accident."

"My belief that is that that does not have anything to do with it," he said. "I believe we've got a failed piece of equipment. We don't know why it failed yet in this contracted rig, and BOP (blowout preventer) system will figure that out."

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