The ship, which swallows water with oil then separates it, can skim about 21 million gallons of oil a day. That's at least 250 times the amount that modified fishing vessels currently conducting skimming operations have been able to contain, according to Taiwanese company TMT shipping, which owns the vessel.The A Whale could do in a day what an entire fleet of skimmers has been able to accomplish in weeks. So what's the holdup? Well, the ship doesn't separate all oil from the water. A small percentage does get through. That should be no excuse for the skimmer to go in operation since the sheer volume of this disaster demands using extraordinary means to help control the hundreds of millions of gallons of oil that have harmed the Gulf.
Meanwhile, BP said Monday that the cost of its response to the Gulf oil disaster now totals approximately $3.12 billion. That includes containment, relief well drilling, grants to Gulf states, claims paid and federal costs, the oil giant said.
A total of about 550 skimming vessels were out in the Gulf on Sunday, according to a spokeswoman for the Unified Command Joint Information Center in Houma, Louisiana. But with oil still pouring into the sea at a rate of tens of thousands of barrels a day, federal authorities closed a new section of the Gulf off Louisiana to fishing on Sunday.
BP says that it's spent more than $3 billion trying to contain the spill and to shut down the oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico. That is a fraction of the cost to the economy around the Gulf Coast effected by the destruction of sensitive wetlands and ecosystems, and the loss of jobs and livelihoods throughout the Gulf Coast.