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BP spill: Obama panel to raise cash

business Updated: Jun 14, 2010 21:31 IST

Barack Obama’s leadership of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill faces key tests this week as the US president gives his first national address on the disaster and meets top BP executives for the first time.

With America's largest-ever environmental disaster nearing the two-month mark, Obama will press BP executives to set up an escrow account to pay damage claims by individuals and businesses hurt by the oil spill disaster.

The crisis enters its 56th day on Monday. Millions of gallons of oil have poured into the Gulf since an April 20 offshore rig blast killed 11 workers and blew out the well.

Obama also will call for an independent panel to administer the payments and to ensure cash is disbursed in a timely fashion when he meets Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg and other BP officials at the White House on Wednesday. U.S. Senate Democrats have written to BP urging them to make a $20 billion deposit to such a fund as a good faith showing that they will not shirk their responsibility.

On Monday, BP said the oil spill had already cost it $1.6 billion and that it would begin operating an additional mechanism to capture more crude in the coming days. Reuters