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Gulf oil spill: BP to speed up claims processing

June 10, 2010 | 10:12 am

BP officials have promised to speed up their processing of business claims in the gulf oil disaster after complaints that lagging payments were leaving businesses in the lurch.

Federal officials also said Thursday that BP has agreed to provide the public with more information on the status of claims.

Almost 42,000 claims have been submitted and more than 20,000 payments totaling over $53 million have been made, according to BP.

In the meantime, Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the national incident commander, said engineers were busy "crunching" numbers to update estimates of how much oil is bubbling from the blown-out BP wellhead.

As the volume of oil and gas captured by a containment cap grows, the debate over the leak rate has continued.

Allen said 15,800 barrels were collected Wednesday, while additional amounts are still escaping from the cap and the damaged well.

To position the cap, underwater robots had to cut the riser pipe connected to the well, a step that was expected to increase the flow, previously pegged at 12,000 to 19,000 barrels a day.  

Teams are using three approaches to arrive at a new flow estimate, Allen said. They are measuring the amount of oil on the surface, analyzing video feeds of the leak and employing underwater acoustic devices.

BP is bringing in more vessels to increase its storage and processing capacity, which Allen has said should reach 28,000 barrels a day by next week.

The cap is piping the captured oil to the processing ship Enterprise, which is now transferring its load to a barge for transport to shore.

-- Bettina Boxall