WRAPUP 1-Gulf residents eye slow fix for historic oil spill

* BP’s ‘top kill’ failure kills optimism

* Obama, Coast Guard admiral lower expectations

* Hope turns to relief well, two months away

By Ed Stoddard and Sarah Irwin

VENICE, La., May 30 (BestGrowthStock) – BP Plc’s (BP.L: ) “top kill”
oil well plug failed on Saturday, practically killing any
optimism among Gulf coast residents that the mammoth spill
fouling their coast and fishing industry will end any time
soon.

Even U.S. President Barack Obama, hit with a tide of
criticism that he is not sufficiently in command of the largest
oil spill in U.S. history, has tried to lower expectations of a
short-term fix. [ID:nN29233965]

U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Mary Landry, standing by as a BP
executive told the world that the tricky top kill procedure had
failed, said they needed to manage people’s expectations better
for a crisis soon entering its seventh week.

Rightly so, because Landry believes the best solution to
definitively plug the leak in the Gulf of Mexico is a relief
well. BP is already drilling one, but it will not be ready for
at least two more months.

By that time, it is hard to say how much damage the oil
spill will have inflicted on the unique ecosystem of the Gulf
coast, coveted for its seafood, fishing and tourism.

It could all be whipped further into marshland by what
promises to be the most active Atlantic storm season since
2005, the year of Hurricane Katrina.

Louisianians still recovering from Katrina’s devastation
had a glimmer of hope that London-based energy giant’s top kill
procedure would be able to plug the ruptured well one mile (1.6
km) under water. But after 72 hours, that came to an end.

“Sure, we held out hope that it might,” said Elizabeth
Cook, an environmental activist from Gretna, Louisiana, who was
visiting the fishing hub of Venice to see the spill response
first hand. “But, you know, they really don’t know how to
address a spill like this that deep into the water.”

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TAKE A LOOK on the spill [ID:nSPILL]

BREAKINGVIEWS: [ID:nN28122201]

INSIDER TV: http://link.reuters.com/wuw64k

Graphic: http://link.reuters.com/neh56k

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MOVING ON

Todd Greaslan, a 23-year-old bartender from New Orleans,
said BP was “experimenting at everybody else’s expense.”

BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward had predicted that despite
risks, the top kill — the injection of heavy fluid into the
well — had a 60 to 70 percent chance of success. He said he
did not know why it failed to stop the gusher. [ID:nN29199143]

The misstep is likely to drive his credibility lower, along
with his company’s market value, which has dropped by 25
percent since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on April 20,
killing 11 workers

The government estimated last week that 12,000 to 19,000
barrels (504,000 to 798,000 gallons/1.9 million to 3 million
liters) a day are leaking from the well, far above BP’s figure
of 5,000 barrels.

At that rate, the government now knows that the Gulf
disaster has surpassed the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaskan
waters.

BP has moved to its next option, a lower marine riser
package cap to contain the oil and channel it to a drillship on
the surface — rather than plug the well. That will take about
four days to place. [ID:nN29233965]

“We believe the LMRP cap has the capability to capture the
great majority of it,” said BP Chief Operating Officer Doug
Suttles. “I don’t want to say 100 percent.”

Mindful of the growing anger among Gulf Coast residents and
others worried about the environmental catastrophe, both
Hayward and Obama made a point of talking about people and
their livelihoods after the top kill failure.

Hayward said in a statement that the containment cap “is
the most effective way to minimize the impact of the oil leak
on the Gulf ecosystem and the people of the region.

Obama’s words were more emotional.

“Every day that this leak continues is an assault on the
people of the Gulf Coast region, their livelihoods, and the
natural bounty that belongs to all of us,” he said, also in a
statement.

“It is as enraging as it is heartbreaking.”

Stock Market Analysis

(Additional reporting by Kristen Hays in Houston and Patricia
Zengerle in Chicago; writing by Mary Milliken; editing by
Mohammad Zargham)

WRAPUP 1-Gulf residents eye slow fix for historic oil spill