BP's costs for the disastrous Gulf of Mexico oil spill climbed nearly half a billion dollars in the past week, raising the oil giant's tab to $3.12 billion for work on cleaning and capping the gusher and payouts to individuals, businesses, and governments, according to a tally released today by BP. The figure does not include a $20 billion fund for Gulf damages BP created last month.
Meanwhile, lousy weather has continued to delay the cleanup effort, preventing a flotilla of smaller skimmers from working offshore along the coasts of Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida, and delaying the operation of the Helix Producer, another vessel that officials say will roughly double the amount of oil being collected or burned. It's supposed to connect with the leaking well by a flexible hose that will help it disconnect and reconnect quickly if a hurricane or major storm forces an evacuation of the site. Coast Guard officials say they're hoping to have the Helix Producer connected to the well and collecting oil by Wednesday.