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BP stock plummets with oil spill clean-up at key stage

BP stock struggled as the company's attempts to contain the oil spill was neared a potentially important stage on Friday.

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Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, who oversees the federal relief effort, said BP plans to more than double its oil collection capacity next week.
"We're coming upon a critical time next week," Allen told Fox News Channel. "We're going to bring a third vessel on line by next Tuesday that will bring our production rate up to about 53,000 barrels a day."

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U.S. government scientists estimate that between 35,000 and 60,000 barrels a day are leaking from the well, far above BP's original estimate of 5,000 barrels a day.

WEATHER WORRIES

Bad weather, however, could delay the company's plans to boost its oil collection capacity.

Some computer models show the storm system in the western Caribbean Sea moving over the Yucatan Peninsula and then veering north into the Gulf of Mexico. Others, however, showed the system heading westward toward Mexico.

The system has a 70 percent chance of developing into a stronger storm over the next 48 hours, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said on Friday.

Allen said it would be necessary five days ahead of the arrival of any gale force winds to start to take down the current operations involving ships and other equipment collecting some of the oil spewing from the ruptured well.

"That trips a series of events where we try and move the equipment and the people into safe shelter," Allen said, adding that during any such evacuation the oil would gush unchecked into the sea.

Two oil-capture systems siphon oil from the leak to a drillship and a service rig a mile above the well at the water's surface. Both use fixed pipes that require several days to disconnect and allow the vessels to move out of the path of a storm, officials said.

(Additional reporting by Scott DiSavino in New York; writing by Ross Colvin; editing by Will Dunham)

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