The president made the demand when touring the US coast to see for himself the scale of the disaster.

Oil began pouring into the gulf almost two weeks ago when an oil rig sunk with the loss of 11 people on board.

However, this morning (May 4) BP stated, while it was doing everything possible to mitigate the impact of the accident, it denied media reports the flow of oil from the crippled well had slowed.

A statement issued last night said: “BP would like to clarify that, contrary to some media reports, the actions it has taken to date on the blow out preventer have not resulted in any observed reduction in the rate of flow of oil from the well.”

President Obama said ‘BP will be held accountable for the costs associated with this tragic event’, while also admitting the clean up could last a ‘long time’.

He added: “It could jeopardise the livelihoods of thousands of Americans who call this place home.”

BP’s chief executive, Tony Hayward, said: “The US government leadership here has been excellent since day one.

“I agree with the president that the top priority right now is to stop the leak and mitigate the damage.

“I reiterated my commitment to the White House today that BP will do anything and everything we can to stop the leak, attack the spill off shore, and protect the shorelines of the Gulf Coast.

“We appreciate the tireless efforts of the many federal, state and local responders and the volunteers, men and women who have worked tirelessly since the date of the accident to mitigate the damage.

“Our teams are working hand in hand and we look forward to hearing more recommendations for action from the president’s visit.”

Luke Walsh

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