NEW YORK (
) -- The Obama administration's intensifying political pressure on
added to the jitteriness of investors Monday, with BP stock down more than 7% in morning trading, one of the equity market's biggest losers.
The negative sentiment on BP is in marked contrast to the last two sessions, when shares of the one-time U.K. petroleum giant rallied from a 14-year low reached on Wednesday.
The early losses on Monday brought BP shares under the $32 mark. They were trading recently at $31.37, down $2.60, or 7.7%. Volume was heavy at more than 35 million shares as of 10:45 a.m. ET, compared with daily average turnover over the last three months of about 34 million shares.
The energy sector was trading in moderately positive territory Monday morning.
The two oil-spill-related stocks that often trade in line with BP shares were also down Monday, but not to the same level.
shares were declining more than 3%, while
, which owns 25% of the gushing well, was losing just 10 cents, or 0.2%, to $41.69. Last Wednesday, Anadarko took the biggest hit of all three companies, falling more than 18% on the worst day yet for trading in these shares during the oil spill crisis.
More on BP Morici: Obama Is In Over His Head
Over the weekend, President Obama demanded that BP create an escrow account to reserve billions of dollars for the Gulf Coast residents and businesses set to suffer damages because of the BP oil spill. The President is slated to outline the plan in a speech from the Oval Office on Tuesday night.
According to some reports, Obama decided to force BP's hand on the reserve account after it became clear to the White House over the weekend that BP wasn't moving as quickly as previously believed to cut, or at least suspend, its shareholder dividend.
Making the rounds on the political talk shows Sunday morning, White House adviser David Axelrod said, "We want to make sure the money is escrowed for the businesses and want to make sure the money is independently administered so it's not slow-walked."
Fifty-four Democratic Senators want BP to put an initial $20 billion payment into an independently-managed account to cover oil spill cleanup and damages.
Over the weekend,
BP also bowed to pressure from the government
to present a plan that would increase its ability to siphon off oil from the leaking well. BP sent a revised spill-containment plan to the Obama administration.
BP increased its forecast for the oil capture potential of its cap system on Monday. BP hopes to be able to capture 40,000 barrels per day by the end of June, and as much as 80,000 barrels of oil a day by the middle of July. The previous high-end of the BP estimate was 50,000 barrels of oil to be captured daily. BP is currently capturing roughly 15,000 barrels of oil daily, of the estimated 35,000 barrels of oil that are leaking into the Gulf of Mexico every day.
Still, throughout the oil spill crisis, BP's best laid plans have met with failure, and the start of hurricane season in the Gulf of Mexico adds another wrinkle to problems faced by BP in containing the massive leak.
Over the weekend, U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral Thad Allen said that the best estimate remains in the mid-30,000-barrel range.
The BP plan calls for two pairs of production ships and shuttle tankers to replace the existing vessels at the site.
This week, BP is expected to begin using a second pipe to siphon off more oil to a ship on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico. By the end of the month, a new siphoning system with floating riser pipes is set to begin operation.
-Reported by Eric Rosenbaum in New York.
>>BP Oil Spill Update
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