15 May 2010

Obama warns of tougher oil industry regime

7:02 pm on 15 May 2010

US President Barack Obama has denounced the traditionally "cosy relationship" between oil companies and United States authorities.

After a meeting with senior advisors at the White House to discuss the huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Mr Obama said the system to prevent such disasters has failed badly.

He said he has not been impressed with "the ridiculous spectacle" of oil company executives blaming each other at a Congressional inquiry into the incident.

It's feared the massive oil slick could be driven ashore this weekend.

Mr Obama said permits to drill were too often apparently issued based on little more than assurances of safety from oil companies, which he said would no longer happen, the BBC reports.

Eleven people died when an explosion destroyed the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig on 20 April.

The rig had been owned and operated by Transocean working on behalf of BP, 77 kilometres off Louisiana.

Thousands of barrels of oil have been gushing daily into the sea from the well's ruptured riser pipe, nearly a mile below the surface.

BP is using underwater robots in its latest attempt to stop the leak, which involves jamming a tube into the pipe to siphon oil to a tanker on the surface.

Forecasters have warned that the weather could drive the oil slick ashore during the weekend.

BP's chief executive says oil disaster should not mean the end of deep-water exploration.

But Tony Hayward told the BBC that significant changes to the oil industry should arise from what he called a "transforming event".