Obama has stern words for BP

Marine reef ecologist Scott Porter works to remove oil from his hands Monday in the Gulf of Mexico, south of Venice, La.

PENSACOLA, Fla.--Oil giant BP will deploy a second containment system by mid-June to capture more crude gushing from the undersea blowout, federal officials said Monday, as President Barack Obama continued to take a tough stance against the petroleum company, saying he wants claims settled quickly.

"The economic impact of this disaster is going to be substantial and it is going to be ongoing," Obama said at a Cabinet meeting to address the containment efforts. "I do not want to see BP nickel and diming these businesses that are having a tough time."

While the Small Business Administration is providing bridge loans to fishermen and other businesses affected by the spill, "What we also need is BP being quick and responsive to the needs of these local communities," the president said.

"We are going to insist that money flows quickly on a timely basis."

In a move expected to increase the recovery of oil spilling from the broken well 5,000 feet below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, federal officials said BP will use the hoses and manifold from the earlier, failed "top kill" operation to siphon oil and gas from the blowout preventer to a ship on the surface.

A separate ship currently stationed over the well and siphoning oil through a containment cap is capturing about 11,000 barrels a day, said U.S. Coast Guard Adm. Thad W. Allen, the government's point man on the recovery effort.

The two containment systems are projected to capture about 20,000 barrels of oil a day, Allen said.

Yet as the amount of oil captured from the underwater well increases, the fight to recover oil on the surface and elsewhere has grown more complex.

Allen said that response teams are no longer battling one monolithic spill but "patches of oil going in lots of different directions."

He added that no one knows exactly how much oil is gushing daily from the busted undersea well, but more privately owned boats are responding to the recovery effort -- helping to skim oil from the surface and to lay booms designed to capture the crude before it reaches shore.

An estimated 1,500 boats have been deployed along the shores of the four states most threatened by the spill: Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi.

The marshlands of Louisiana are particularly threatened, Allen said, noting that once oil reaches marshy shores it can spread farther inland than if touching down on a sandy beach.

And even as more boats lay more boom near the coastlines, Allen warned that the booms are "not a silver bullet."

Despite miles of boom laid around Dauphin Island off Alabama's coast, he said, the creeping crude still breached the barrier.

"No matter how much boom we have out there," he said, "we will still have an aggregation of oil coming ashore from time to time."

In Pensacola Beach on Monday morning, fewer tar balls appeared to have washed ashore than in previous days since the sticky globs began dotting the sand Friday.

That may be a fortuitous break, as forecast stormy weather threatened to get in the way of cleanup and monitoring efforts scheduled for Monday, Escambia County officials said.

The county opened emergency operations field offices Monday to give staff and BP cleanup crews a place to work closer to the beach.

In a visit to the emergency operations center, Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, a Republican running for governor, questioned why the coast off Mobile is getting "triple boom" and the Panhandle is not.

"We should at least be treated the same way as Alabama is being treated," he said.

Escambia is triple booming some areas in inland waters, though even three layers may not be effective, county officials warned.

McCollum also asked a state BP liaison about getting more oil-skimming boats. BP executive Doug Suttles has committed to sending 20 in one or two weeks, said Ben Ziker, the state liaison.

"Why don't we have them here now?" McCollum said, adding that he has heard 300 skimmers are available across the country and not in the Gulf.

In a subsequent news conference, McCollum held up a glass jar full of tar from the beach and said he was "appalled" that local officials have little decision-making power because they have to go through a federal, unified command center in Mobile.

Added U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller, a Florida Republican: "County commissioners are being hamstrung right now because they don't have the resources."

Federal officials have said resources to contain the spill were first sent to places like Louisiana that were going to feel the brunt of the spill early.

A light oil sheen continued to hover three to four miles from shore.

The sheen was moving east of Pensacola along the Panhandle.

A Florida Department of Environmental Protection forecast issued Monday said that a rare June cold front was expected to temporarily halt the oil from moving northward, but that shifting ocean currents might still push crude toward the state.

Winds are expected to resume from the south today and continue through the end of the week.

Meanwhile in South Florida, federal officials established a sentry program to monitor the waters off the Florida Keys and Dry Tortugas.

Under the program, ships and possibly aircraft will patrol state waters and provide an early-warning system and identify the threats so officials can respond accordingly.

A light sheen, for instance, will naturally dissipate, but so-called mousse mats and tar balls could potentially threaten the Florida Keys and the east coast of the state.

Even as BP officials reported some success with a containment cap lowered over the busted well on Thursday, government officials warned that the environmental catastrophe potentially will last for years.

Allen emphasized that the containment cap's success does not represent an end to the spill. That will only be achieved when the deep-water well is fully cemented shut, he said.