[Updated at 7:04 p.m.] Here are the latest developments on the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which began when the oil rig Deepwater Horizon exploded on April 20:
- Researchers at the University of South Florida have completed laboratory tests confirming that the oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico has collected into more than one oil plume beneath the surface.
BP, the main party responsible for the spill, has previously denied that such large amounts of oil - which can choke fish and harm their eggs - have formed into underwater plumes.
- A crew of scientists who just returned from an eight-day mission researching the underwater oil impact of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill has found life forms in the vicinity of the breached well head, officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Friday.
The researchers aboard the 224-foot Gordon Gunter found "ample evident of a lot of zooplankton," said NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco. "It's not a dead zone, there's still a lot of life there."
The question, she said, is how much of an impact the oil from the Deepwater Horizon disaster will ultimately have. The researchers took underwater samples from within 3 nautical miles (3.45 miles) of the well head.
- President Obama arrived in Louisiana Friday afternoon to get another firsthand look at the environmental damage and to speak with political and business leaders.
- Oil that has already affected Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama is drifting steadily towards Florida. A new trajectory from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued Friday forecast oil onshore as far east as Destin by Saturday afternoon.
- Tar balls, tar patties and sheen were spotted along the Escambia County shoreline, according to NOAA. The primary oil plume¬†was 30 miles from Pensacola.
- Oil is successfully being siphoned from the ruptured undersea well to the surface, where it flowing on board a ship, BP said Friday.
- BP will establish a separate division to manage the ongoing response to the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the company's Chief Executive Officer
Tony Hayward said Friday.
- Having placed a cap on the ruptured well head, BP plans to successively close four vents Friday, hoping to halt oil that is still escaping from a runaway well into the Gulf of Mexico, said Doug Suttles, the company's chief operating officer.
- President Obama is heading to Louisiana on Friday to meet with political and business leaders after announcing that he was "furious at this entire situation."
- Tar balls have started washing ashore all along the Gulf coast, visible signs of the environmental catastrophe.
- More BP protests are planned Friday, including one organized in Washington by the non-partisan watchdog Public Citizen.
- BP successfully placed a containment cap on ruptured pipe Thursday night.
The completion of the complex "cut and cap" underwater maneuver was applauded by U.S. and BP officials but whether or not it will be successful is not known yet.
The Obama administration has sent a $69 million bill to BP for the U.S. government's efforts to help deal with the energy company's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, giving the company until July 1 to pay the bill in full. The bill was also sent to Transocean, Anadarko, Moex Offshore and QBE Underwriting.
BP has spent more than $40 million so far making payments on 15,000 of the nearly 32,000 loss-of-income claims filed by area business owners and their workers.
The beleaguered oil giant began airing national television ads Thursday apologizing for the spill. Chief Executive Officer Tony Hayward appears in the ad, saying he is "deeply sorry" and that BP "will make this right."
Obama told CNN's Larry King on Thursday that he is "furious" about the spill but said his job is to fix things instead of just yelling at people.
BP has hired a Washington-based, bipartisan political consulting firm to produce its new aggressive national advertising push, including a national TV spot released Thursday. Purple Strategies includes veteran political consultants Steve McMahon, a Democrat, and Alex Castellanos, a Republican.