BP pledges $500m to study oil spill's impact on gulf
BP has pledged $500m (£346m) to study the impact on the Gulf of Mexico of the oil spill, as top US officials flew over the area to assess BP's response.
A BP official said a bid to plug the leaking well with heavy mud and cement stood a 60-70% chance of success.
He said the company shared widespread public frustration with its inability to stem the leak.
BP is under increasing pressure from the US government, which has threatened to take over the response effort.
On Monday, BP pledged to fund a 10-year research effort aimed at studying the long-term effect of the spill on the shoreline and marine environments in the Gulf of Mexico, and the impact of the response efforts.
"This will be a key part of the process of restoration, and for improving the industry response capability for the future," BP chief executive Tony Hayward said in a statement.
"There is an urgent need to ensure that the scientific community has access to the samples and the raw data it needs to begin this work."
BP chief operating officer Doug Suttles said the so-called "top kill" effort to stem the leak with heavy mud and cement, expected this week, stood a 60-70% chance of succeeding.
"We need it to work," Mr Suttles told the CNN news channel.'Missed deadlines'
In a round of appearances on US television news programmes on Monday morning, Mr Suttles said BP was aware that frustration with the company was growing over its inability to stop the leak.
On Sunday, US Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said the British company had missed "deadline after deadline" in its efforts to seal the blown-out oil well and pledged to "push them out of the way" if BP's performance lags.More than a month after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, killing 11 workers, oil has begun to coat delicate coastal marshlands in Louisiana and threatens Florida and Cuba.
"We are doing everything we can, everything I know," Mr Suttles said on NBC's Today show.
"Everyone is frustrated," Mr Suttles said.
"I think the people of the region are frustrated. I know we are, I know the government is. The fact that it's taken this long is painful to everybody."
Mr Salazar was visiting the disaster site on Monday with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and a bi-partisan delegation of US senators.
The BBC's Daniel Nasaw in Washington says the Obama administration is eager to show voters it is engaged in the response and to avoid the sort of criticism heaped on former President George W Bush after Hurricane Katrina devastated the gulf coast in 2005.
The government is coming under increasing criticism for its response to the disaster, as well as pressure to assume control from BP.
But US government officials have said that only BP has the equipment and expertise to cap the leaking well 5,000ft (1,524m) below the surface of the gulf.
Meanwhile, the US government regulators who oversee offshore oil drilling have granted at least 19 environmental waivers for gulf drilling projects and 17 drilling permits since the oil leak began more than a month ago, the New York Times reported on Monday.
The new permits and waivers would appear to contradict President Barack Obama's declaration of a moratorium on new offshore drilling, issued soon after the rig explosion.Short-term options
BP's efforts suffered a new setback when it reported last week that its containment method on the ocean floor was capturing much less of the leaking oil than initially hoped.
Its managing director, Bob Dudley, said it would press ahead with a series of short-term options while working on a relief well not due to be completed before August.
"We will keep trying, we will not wait until August," he told CNN.
"There is no certainty at these kinds of depth."
The chief of the US coast guard, Admiral Thad Allen, acknowledged on Sunday that the government was forced to rely on BP and the private oil sector to try to plug the spill.
"They have the eyes and ears that are down there. They are necessarily the modality by which this is going to get solved," he said.