BP Plc will deploy a small containment dome to try to trap oil from a blown-out undersea well in the Gulf of Mexico in the "next couple of days," a company spokesman said on Thursday, Reuters reported.
Earlier, the BP
"The top hat deployment is the next couple of days," BP spokesman Jon Pack said. "We don't have a definitive date."
The dome is BP's latest attempt to control the roughly 5,000 barrels (210,000 gallons/795,000 liters) per day that has been gushing from the broken well for more than three weeks.
The oil spill could become the worst in U.S. history and threatens an environmental catastrophe along the U.S. Gulf Coast.
A buildup of slushy gas hydrates stymied BP's first attempt last week at covering the leak with a much-larger dome and there is no certainty that the next stab at it will succeed.
London-based BP, Transocean Ltd
Scientists say coastal wetlands threatened by the spill, which provide critical habitat for bird life and serve as rich nurseries for the region's valuable shrimp and oyster stocks, are already dwindling from erosion and development.
Oil pollution would accelerate the process by killing the vegetation that holds the marshes together. It threatens regional economic mainstays including fishing and tourism as well as wildlife throughout the region.
"If we allow that oil to come in and touch our marshlands, that'll shut us down for about five to six years," said Rodney Dufrene, 23, a new shrimp boat owner from the hamlet of Cut Off, north of Port Fourchon, Louisiana.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the oil continued to spread with winds and currents and this week's southeasterly winds could push the oil closer to Breton Sound and the Mississippi Delta.
BP, whose shares have tumbled and wiped out $30 billion of market value since the rig fire on April 20, said on Thursday the oil spill had cost it $450 million so far.
BP stock closed up 1.1 percent in London after weeks of steep declines.
Global scrutiny of the offshore oil industry could intensify after a second drilling rig sank off Venezuela, although no fatalities were reported and authorities said there was no leak from the natural gas well.