BP mounted a more aggressive response to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday as it deployed undersea sensors to better measure the ferocious flow of crude while drawing up new plans to meet a government demand that it speed up the containment effort ahead of President Barack Obama's visit to the coast.
The financial ramifications of the disaster are growing by the day as the White House and states put pressure on BP to set aside billions of dollars to pay spill-related claims in a move that could quickly drain the company's cash reserves and hasten its path toward possible bankruptcy.
BP was also trying to meet a Sunday deadline to respond to a letter from the Coast Guard demanding that it intensify the efforts to stop the spill. One of the actions BP took Sunday was to use robotic submarines to position sensors inside the well to gauge how much oil is spilling.
The robots were expected to insert the pressure sensors through a line used to inject methanol - an antifreeze meant to prevent the buildup of icelike slush - into a containment cap seated over the ruptured pipe, BP spokesman David Nicholas said.
BP was installing the sensors at the request of a federal team of scientists tasked with estimating the flow, Nicholas said. He did not know when the request was made.