BP's chief executive said Tuesday that a containment dome designed to cover the Gulf oil leak will be on the seabed Thursday, and will be hooked up to a drill ship over the weekend.
"This has never been done in 5,000 feet of water ... So we'll undoubtedly encounter some issues as we go through that process," CEO Tony Hayward told reporters at a news conference. "But if that was a good outcome, then you would have the principal leak contained by the early part of next week. But there's no guarantees."Special Section: Gulf Coast Oil DisasterGulf Residents Watch, Await Oil Spill's PathHigher Gas, Seafood Prices Likely from SpillJeff Corwin: Oil Spill Means Eco-ChaosHow Much Will BP Have to PayOil Still Gushing into GulfOil Spill by the NumbersGulf Oil Spill Containment Efforts
The plan is to cover the leak in the structure known as a cofferdam, and funnel the oil to the surface.
Hayward made the comments a day after he and Lamar McKay, the company's chairman and president, met with top Obama administration officials at the Interior Department. Hayward, who is based in London, said it was his third trip to Washington since the accident.
Hayward also said that chemical dispersants have "significantly" reduced the amount of oil coming to the surface.
Although the oil has not yet reached the shore - only sheens have reached some coastal waters - he said that the company is "planning on something much, much worse. So we have a major response going on onshore."
The CEO said he's spoken with a range of people from fishermen to governors about the spill.
"What I was struck by was the enormous commitment of everyone to work together to deal with this terrible issue," he said. "I believe passionately that we will all win this." He said that the company's actions "can win the hearts and minds of the people."