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BP starts new clean up as chair hits out

BP is preparing to blast the well leaking oil into the Gulf of Mexico with thousands of barrels of mud as it launches the “top kill” phase of its clean up efforts later today.

Meanwhile, the oil giant’s chairman has hit back at critics of the company’s response to the disaster, reminding them BP is “big and important” for the US.

Carl-Henric Svanberg told the Financial Times yesterday: “The US is a big and important market for BP, and BP is also a big and important company for the US... So the position goes both ways.”

BP has lined up roughly 50,000 barrels of mud, along with surface vessels, robots and extra equipment it hopes will plug up the leak.

BP is moving forward with the procedure despite a number of uncertainties and an admission that should it fail, it could make the situation worse.

Earlier this week chief operating officer Doug Suttles said the top kill procedure had a 60 to 70 per cent chance of success. Analysts said the next phase of the clean up is a key determinant for the group, which has already estimated clean up costs will reach $760m (£529m).

“Some of the industry’s best brains are working on the problem, there are a lot of elements at work, but a lot of uncertainties,” said Alexandre Andlauer at AlphaValue.

BP said late on Monday in a briefing to the US government that a number of companies were involved in the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig, including BP and drill operator Transocean, but that it was “still too early to tell who was at fault as a lot remains unknown”.

The news comes as Transocean insurer, Lloyds of London, is thought to have asked a federal court in Houston to block a claim made by BP seeking damages from the driller.