Fifty-eight days into an environmental disaster which has so far spewed the equivalent in crude oil of 14 Exxon Valdez tankers, and amid rhetorical blunders about "kicking ass", Barack Obama took charge of the oil spill crisis yesterday.
The decisive moment arrived behind closed doors and after four hours of negotiations when the US president wrung an agreement from BP executives to put $20bn (£13.6bn) into an independently managed compensation fund.
It came hours after one of the lowest points in his presidency, when administration officials admitted the flow of leaking oil could now be 60,000 barrels a day, and commentators savaged his first Oval Office address for lacking specifics.
The broad outline of the deal – including the figure of $20bn – had been worked out in advance, but it took hard bargaining before BP would agree to not put a cap on the fund, and to set aside an additional $100m for rig workers made unemployed by the pause in offshore drilling.
"There were sticking points," Carol Browner, the White House energy adviser said – and with the developments yesterday, the suggestion was that it took Obama himself to get them unstuck. She refused to elaborate.
Obama was joined in the negotiations by the vice-president, Joe Biden, and five cabinet secretaries, including the homeland security secretary, Janet Napolitano, the interior secretary, Ken Salazar, and the energy secretary, Steven Chu. BP Holdings
TAGS: How the Gulf oil spill deal with BP was done
How the Gulf oil spill deal with BP was done