E2 Round-up: Leak could get much worse with 'no good' solutions to stop the flow; BP hopes to contain political damage too

Bloomberg gives another run-down of yesterday's events and a description of BP’s effort to stem the flow of oil with a steel containment dome dropped a mile down into Gulf waters where the leaks are occurring: “The company expects to have the dome in place on the seafloor and trapping oil within five days, Doug Suttles, chief operating officer of exploration and production for London-based BP, said at a press conference.

"The 125-ton, 40-foot-tall steel box designed to capture 85 percent of the oil will be shipped today at noon, and it will take an additional 60 hours to put it on the seafloor, Suttles said. A drill ship would collect the oil from a 5,000-foot riser and separate it from water and gas.

“'They indicated to us that they do believe they have a possibility of being successful, but they are not guaranteed,' said Markey. 'It’s pretty clear that there was not proper preparation for the worst-case scenario.'”

* ‘No good solutions’ to oil leak

The Los Angeles Times relays this sobering account from inside the Markey meeting: “A source who attended ... said that the companies' representatives had a ‘deer in headlights’ look and that the tenor of the conversation was that the firms ‘are attempting to solve a problem which they have never had to solve before at this depth…at this scope of disaster. They essentially said as much.’

“‘What we heard was worst-case scenario, with no good solutions,’ said the source, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the meeting.

“Officials have estimated that the leak is gushing oil at a rate of 5,000 barrels a day. But if things go badly, representatives for the companies worried that that figure could turn into 60,000 barrels a day, or 2.5 million gallons. Just four days at that rate would exceed the amount of oil spilled by the Exxon Valdez off Alaska, the worst spill in U.S. history.”

* BP works to contain political damage as it tries to stem leak

The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, has an account of Hayward’s efforts to stem the political damage from the spill. Hayward met with lawmakers on Tuesday and seems intent on avoiding a political backlash of the type that engulfed Goldman Sachs Group and Toyota Motor Corp., but that could be hard to do.

From the Journal: “The push on Capitol Hill, arising after a rig leased by BP burned and sank in the Gulf of Mexico last month and the well it was drilling began leaking oil, comes as the company said it hopes as soon as Thursday to lower the first of three containment domes over the principle underwater leak. The dome would then pump the escaping oil to ships on the surface.” …

“Mr. Hayward's briefings for lawmakers Tuesday followed lengthy consultations with administration officials the day before. It was his third visit to the capital since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on April 20 and later sank in 5,000 feet of water, killing 11 workers. ‘I believe passionately that we will all win this,’ he told reporters.

Lawmakers had sharp words after his briefings on Capitol Hill. ‘It was pretty clear here that there was not a proper preparation for the worst-case scenario,’ Markey said.”