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Published: Wednesday, 6/9/2010

BP pledges money from captured oil to aid wildlife


WASHINGTON - Money from any oil collected and sold from BP's leaking oil well will go toward a fund that helps restore and improve wildlife habitat in the four states most damaged by the nation's largest oil spill.

Although thousands of barrels of oil continue to spew into the Gulf of Mexico each day from BP's broken well, the energy company is salvaging much of it, using a containment device installed last week.

That captured oil could generate more than $1.4 million in revenue each day, based on flow-rate estimates calculated by federal officials.

The firm said it doesn't know how much money it will donate, but all net revenue from the well will go to the fund. So will the net revenue from oil skimmed from the gulf's surface and sold to a refinery for processing.

The wildlife fund will create, restore, improve, and protect wildlife habitat along the coastlines of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida, BP chief executive Tony Hayward said.

BP said it will continue to donate all net revenue from the well until it "is killed and oil is no longer coming from this source."

A relief well is expected to be completed in August.

BP officials said yesterday that the containment cap was capturing a greater percentage of oil each day.

The Coast Guard said BP had collected about 620,000 gallons of oil from the well Monday, 33 percent higher than the amount collected Sunday, and the highest capture rate since the firm installed a new system last week to contain the spill.

That would mean the cap is capturing better than half of the oil, based on the government's estimate that about 600,000 to 1.2 million gallons a day are leaking from the bottom of the sea.

But scientists analyzing the flow said the amount of crude still escaping may be considerably greater than what the government and the company have claimed.

Steve Wereley, a Purdue University engineering professor, said it was a "reasonable conclusion" but not the team's final one to say the daily flow rate is somewhere between 798,000 gallons and 1.8 million gallons.

"BP is claiming they're capturing the majority of the flow, which I think is going to be proven wrong in short order," he said.

Other members of the team also said they expect their findings to show higher numbers than the government estimate, but they weren't ready to say how much higher.

In other developments:

•The White House said President Obama will head back to the Gulf Coast next week to inspect efforts to contain the spill. He is to visit Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida during a two-day trip beginning Monday.

•BP's chief operating officer Doug Suttles said the company expects to be capturing virtually all the leaking oil by early next week.

Mr. Suttles said a second pumping ship should improve the process and a new containment cap being built will seal better and reduce leakage.

•BP said 90 percent of the compensation checks it has issued so far have gone to fishermen, noting that it had issued about 18,000 checks totaling $49 million.

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