BP achieves success with Gulf leak plug

BP yesterday confirmed a pressure test on the cementing operation to plug its leaking Macondo well off the Louisiana coast had been successful.

“[The test] following the cementing operations indicates we have an effective cement plug,” the company said.

The news came as the US coast guard said clean-up efforts from the BP oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico must continue despite claims that much of the oil had vanished.

“We need to keep the clean-up going,” coast guard Admiral Thad Allen said. “It’s a catastrophe for the Gulf and we need to keep up with it.”

The US government released a report last week showing nearly three quarters of the oil that gushed into the Gulf had all but disappeared.

BP will this week resume drilling a relief well in a bid to finally put an end to the worst oil leak in history.

Meanwhile, new figures emerged showing the cost of the disaster to BP’s top executives. Analysis of the group’s accounts show the plunge in the company’s share price has wiped £30m from the value of shares and share options granted to BP’s five executive directors.

According to a report by pay consultants Patterson Associates, finance director Byron Grote has suffered a paper loss of £8.6m on the shares and options he received on top of his normal pay and bonuses. Tony Hayward, who is stepping down as chief executive, has seen his holdings fall by £8.5m in value.

Andy Inglis, who runs the division responsible for the well, is down £6m on paper, and head of sales Iain Conn has seen his shares and options fall by £5.7m in value. Bob Dudley, who is taking over from Hayward in October, has seen a £2.4m fall.

BP shares have lost a third of their value since the explosion at the Deepwater Horizon rig, which killed 11 people and led to millions of barrels of oil pumping out into the Gulf of Mexico. The share price has been steadily improving over the past month and closed on Friday at 425p.