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BP tests giant "whale" to suck up Gulf oil

media BP tests supertanker fourteen miles northwest of the BP oil spill site in the Gulf of Mexico. Reuters

Efforts to clean up the Gulf of Mexico picked up steam on Monday after a five-day shutdown caused by Hurricane Alex. Embattled oil giant BP hopes to deploy a new supertanker capable of sucking up oil on the surface of the Gulf.

BP says costs from the huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico have reached to two-and-a-half billion euros, more than three billion dollars.

The firm's share price has lost fifty percent since the oil rig explosion on 20 April, and the rising costs of the clean-up bid.

Meanwhile, there was renewed activity in the Gulf of Mexico today after Hurricane
Alex imposed a five-day shutdown on attempts to clear up the pollution.

Skimming operations have resumed in Louisiana but rough seas have kept vesels tied in the harbour in three other southeastern states.

And BP hopes a giant Taiwanese supertanker known as  a "whale" can boost the amount of oil and water mix being scooped up from the surface of the gulf.

The tanker can suck up 21 million gallons of oily water a day. Smaller skimming boats have collected only 28.2 million gallons in total over the past ten weeks.

“It’s a completely new concept, instead of being a small specialised craft. It’s a supertanker with slots cut into the bow to suck in the oily-water mix, with very enhanced equipment on board to separate oil from the water,” Jim Mulrenan of Trade Winds shipping news said.

He added that the “whale” would be capable of taking in a mixture of 30 percent oil, and spew out a mixture containing one percent of oil.

Tests on the 275-metre-long tanker were expected to be finished by Monday before officials decide whether to deploy it.

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