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Latest developments in the oil spill

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

-- BP began billing its partners on the blown-out oil well for their shares of the cleanup. BP has billed Anadarko Petroleum, a 25 percent stakeholder in the well, for more than a quarter-billion dollars so far. It also has reportedly billed Mitsui, a 10 percent partner, for $111 million.

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"They are partners in the field, and as responsible partners we would expect them to bear some of the costs," BP spokeswoman Sheila Williams said Monday.

Anadarko, based in The Woodlands, Tex., said in a statement that it is reviewing the $272.2 million bill sent last week and "assessing our contractual remedies." Anadarko's chief executive, Jim Hackett, said last month that his company should be excluded from paying because of BP's "reckless decisions and actions" in its handling of the well.

BP said Monday that it has spent $3.12 billion so far in response to the spill, including attempting to contain oil, paying claims and reimbursing federal and local governments.

-- Tar balls from the oil spill reached a pair of Texas beaches, the first sign that gushing crude from the Deepwater Horizon well has reached all of the gulf states.

The consistency of the tar balls indicates that they might have reached Texas via ships that have worked in spill-affected areas rather than by hitching a ride on ocean currents, said Capt. Marcus Woodring, the Coast Guard commander for the Houston-Galveston sector. But there's no way to confirm how the tar balls got there.

The length of coastline contaminated by the spill has reached 492 miles, up from 484 a day earlier. The net amount grew in Louisiana, Alabama and Florida, but by the government's reckoning, cleanup efforts reduced the subtotal by nine miles in Mississippi.

-- Tar balls and oil sheen were also spotted in Louisiana's Lake Pontchartrain, the large body of water north of New Orleans that is connected to the Gulf of Mexico, the government reported Monday night.

The oil was also found in the Rigolets, a passage between the lake and the gulf, the Deepwater Horizon Unified Command reported.

Officials responded by laying hundreds of feet of boom along a choke point in the Rigolets. They also sent more than 20 skimming and decontamination vessels to the oiled areas, which were reported near Slidell, northeast of New Orleans. Those vessels collected more than 1,000 pounds of tar balls and waste by Monday evening, the center said.

-- The federal government closed more fishing waters Monday. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has now closed 81,181 square miles of federal waters to fishing, up nearly 1,000 square miles from its previous boundary. That amounts to more than a third of U.S. waters in the gulf, crippling much of the region's seafood industry.

The latest increase by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reflected the spread of the vast oil slick. The boundary was extended westward off Vermilion Bay, the government said.

-- David S. Hilzenrath and Associated Press


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