[Updated at 8:39 p.m. ET] Here are the latest developments on the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, which unfolded after an April 20 explosion aboard the drilling rig Deepwater Horizon:
– Rep. Bart Stupak, chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Congress, said he is not optimistic about BP CEO Tony Hayward's planned testimony on Thursday: "He's just going to say, 'I'm sorry, it's not going to happen again.' It's not good enough, it's not good enough," Stupak said.
- BP has spent nearly $1.5 billion, "and we will not stop until the job is done," BP CEO Tony Hayward says in prepared testimony to be delivered Thursday before a House committee.
– So far, more than 400,000 barrels of oily water mix has been recovered and the company has paid more than $90 million on the more than 56,000 claims, Hayward says.
– Close to another $16 million is expected to be paid this week to businesses alone, he says. In all, 32 walk-in claims offices are open in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi.
– BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg said the board of the oil giant has
decided not to pay any further dividends this year.
– BP has agreed to place $20 billion in an escrow fund to help compensate those affected by the oil disaster. The fund "will not supersede individuals' or states' rights to present claims in court," President Obama said. BP, he asserted, will remain liable for the environmental disaster in the Gulf.
– BP has voluntarily agreed to create a $100 million fund for the
purpose of compensating oil rig workers now unemployed as a result of closure
of other deepwater rigs after the April 20 Deepwater Horizon explosion, Obama
– The Obama administration tapped attorney Kenneth Feinberg to mediate BP's claims process. Feinberg played the same role in compensation for the victims of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Anyone dissatisfied with his handling of their claim will be able to appeal to a three-person panel, then to the federal oil spill liability trust fund and then to court, said Carol Browner, the president's point person on energy and climate change.
– BP paid roughly $70 million to the U.S. Coast Guard for cleanup operations, wire transfer receipts showed.
- "We cannot guarantee the outcome of these operations, but we are working around the clock with the best experts from government and industry," BP CEO Tony Hayward says in prepared testimony to be delivered Thursday before a House committee.
– The drilling of two relief wells has reached depths of 15,226 feet and 9,778 feet respectively, Hayward says, but they are not expected to be completed until August.
– By the end of July, officials hope to be able to contain as many as 80,000 barrels of oil per day, said U.S. Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen. By that time, he said, there will be only "minimal leakage" around the wellhead.
– Tar balls and "mousse" from the worst spill in U.S. history was washing up on Fort Walton Beach, Florida, on Wednesday, state officials reported.
– BP collected roughly 10,440 barrels of oil - or nearly 440,000 gallons - from the ruptured well Tuesday, a decrease from the day before due to a fire aboard the drilling ship Discoverer Enterprise. On Monday, 15,420 barrels of oil were collected. Collection was suspended but resumed after the fire was extinguished.
– BP said Wednesday that it has started collecting oil gushing into the Gulf through a second containment system attached to the ruptured well. The new system is connected directly to the blowout preventer and carries oil up to a second ship, the Q4000.
– Government officials on Tuesday increased the estimate of oil flowing into the Gulf from the ruptured well to between 35,000 and 60,000 barrels (1.5 million to 2.5 million gallons) per day, up to 50 percent more than previously estimated.
– The latest wildlife report said 634 oiled birds have been collected alive while 783 have been found dead, and 96 sea turtles have been collected alive while 353 have been found dead. Meanwhile, a Louisiana parish official said pelican bird nests had been trampled by cleaning crews.
– Seafood from the Gulf available to consumers in stores and restaurants is safe, a Food and Drug Administration official told a Senate committee Tuesday.
- BP's acceptance of responsibility does not necessarily mean it is legally liable for the actions that led to the spill, Hayward says in prepared testimony to be delivered Thursday before a House committee.
– Hayward adds that, though the cause of the disaster is unclear, his company's investigation suggests that the accident was caused by the apparent failure of "a number of processes, systems and equipment."
– More questions arose this week as congressional investigators released confidential BP documents, some of which contradict the testimony of the company's drilling engineer a few weeks ago about safety in well design and construction.
- In his first speech from the White House Oval Office, Obama vowed Tuesday night to unleash whatever resources may be needed to contain oil and clean up from the biggest environmental disaster in the nation's history. Obama predicted that, "in the coming days and weeks," efforts to stop the leak "should capture up to 90 percent of the oil leaking out of the well." By later in the summer, a relief well is expected to stop the leak completely. Responses to his speech were mixed.
– BP's response: "We share the president's goal of shutting off the well as quickly as possible, cleaning up the oil and mitigating the impact on the people and environment of the Gulf Coast." The company said it was looking forward to meetings with Obama "for a constructive discussion about how best to achieve these mutual goals."
– Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar named former Justice Department Inspector General Michael R. Bromwich to lead changes to the Minerals Management Service as the agency is restructured.
- Most people do not think beaches and wildlife will ever recover from
the oil disaster, according to a USA Today/Gallup survey released Wednesday. It
also suggested a gender gap on the issue, with women respondents much more
pessimistic than men.