As President Obama makes his third trip to the Gulf since the BP oil rig ruptured, engineers have installed a containment cap on top of the 46-day old gusher and began capturing some of the spill.
In a conference call, BP executives sought to reassure investors that the situation would be resolved, but put off a decision on whether to suspend paying its next quarterly dividend, as some US politicians had demanded.
The company's share price gyrated in London and New York as company CEO Tony Hayward answered questions. He said the company had plenty of money to meet its obligations, including $5 billion in cash and additional credit lines it could tap if necessary. BP has already spent more than $1 billion on its response.
The US Coast Guard said the containment cap placed atop the gusher a mile deep beneath the Gulf's surface was now collecting about 1,000 barrels a day.
It was a sign of progress after several failed attempts by the energy giant. US officials cautioned against being too optimistic, however, since large amounts of oil are still escaping.
BP does not expect to be able to fully halt the oil flow until August, when two relief wells are to be completed.