WRAPUP 2-Oil fouls Louisiana, BP scrambles to contain spill

* Crude still leaking into Gulf, fouling Louisiana marshes

* Disaster remains high on Washington political agenda

* U.S. lawmaker cites “cover-up”
(Updates with BP stock lower in early London trading)

By Matthew Bigg

BLIND BAY, La, May 21 (BestGrowthStock) – Energy giant BP, accused
by the U.S. government of failing to share information in a
timely fashion about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, was forging
ahead on Friday with efforts to contain the gushing crude.

The pressure to act is huge. TV images of oil sloshing into
Louisiana’s marshes has underscored the gravity of the
situation and raised public concern about the catastrophe,
keeping it high up on the political agenda in Washington.

“It’s depressing for sure. This is what we were hoping
wouldn’t happen,” said Randy Lanctot, executive director of the
Louisiana Wildlife Federation.

Deep red oil coated miles of coastline along the southern
tip of the Mississippi River delta, the harbinger of what many
in Louisiana fear will be a much more devastating inundation.

In places, a thick oily sludge had washed up into coastal
inlets where it nestled amid the marsh grass while elsewhere a
rainbow sheen of oil floated off the coast suggesting more oil
would soon wash onto the low-lying islands.

In a clear sign of Washington’s growing frustration with
BP’s handling of the spiraling environmental disaster, the U.S.
government accused BP of being less than transparent about the
unfolding situation, while a senior lawmaker said its actions
amounted to a “cover-up.”

“In responding to this oil spill, it is critical that all
actions be conducted in a transparent manner, with all data and
information related to the spill readily available to the
United States government and the American people,” Homeland
Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Environmental
Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson said.

They said in a letter on Thursday to BP CEO Tony Hayward
that despite claims by BP that it was striving to keep the
public and the government informed, “those efforts, to date,
have fallen short in both their scope and effectiveness.”

The statement followed allegations that BP had failed to
share everything it knew about the extent of the damage and the
amount of crude flowing unchecked from the ruptured well.


TAKE A LOOK on the spill [ID:nSPILL]

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

Graphic: http://link.reuters.com/ken64k

Breakingviews column [ID:nLDE64C1D1]


BP’s stock fell 2.40 percent in early London trading on
Friday. The company has lost around $30 billion in value in the
month since the rig explosion, which killed 11 workers, sparked
the disaster.

BP said on Thursday it was siphoning 5,000 barrels (210,000
gallons/795,000 litres) per day of oil from the gusher, from
3,000 barrels a day previously.

“The oil plume escaping from the riser pipe has visibly
declined today,” BP spokesman Mark Proegler said after the
company announced that a mile-long (1.6 km) tube was tapping
into the larger of two leaks from the well.

However, a live video feed of the leak, provided by BP
(BP.L: ), showed a black plume of crude oil still billowing out
into the deep waters.

BP has been estimating the leak was flowing at a rate of
5,000 barrels per day, but scientists and the government have
questioned that figure.

Scientists analyzing video of the oil gushing from the
seabed have pegged the spill’s volume at about 70,000 barrels
(2.9 million gallons/11 million liters) per day.

“It’s just not working,” U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, who
heads the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, told
CNN as she watched the BP video. The California Democrat
denounced a “cover-up” of the real size of the oil spill.

BP is scrambling on other fronts as well after the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency ordered it to identify safer
dispersants by Friday that can be used to contain the spill.

And a lawsuit was filed on Thursday by a BP shareholder in
Alaska’s state Superior Court in Anchorage alleging BP failed
to follow safety rules and procedures in the Gulf and in its
North Slope operations in Alaska.

BP did not immediately respond to the suit.

Stock Market Advice

(Writing by Ed Stoddard; editing by Todd Eastham)

WRAPUP 2-Oil fouls Louisiana, BP scrambles to contain spill