17 Countries Offer Gulf Assistance, BP Accepts Only 2 Offers

ABC News' Luis Martinez reports:

As desperate efforts continue to stop the oil spewing from beneath the ocean floor into the Gulf of Mexico, 17 countries have offered to help in some way or another, but for now BP and officials coordinating the clean-up effort have accepted assistance from only two of those countries, Mexico and Norway.

At yesterday’s State Department briefing, spokesman P.J. Crowley updated reporters on the offers of international assistance the Department has received to help with the oil spill in the Gulf.

He said the U.S. has received offers to assist from 17 countries and four international organizations. The countries are : Canada, Mexico, Korea, Croatia, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Russia, Spain, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and Vietnam. The organizations are : the European Union, including the European Maritime Safety Agency, the environmental unit of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and the United Nations Environment Program and the International Maritime Organization.

Though the State Department receives the offers, it is BP and the Unified Area Command, led by the Coast Guard, that are the entities that decide which offers to accept. So far, the UAC has accepted skimmers and booms offered by Mexico and Norway. He deferred questions as to why only those offers had been accepted so far to the UAC in Louisiana.

Crowley did not have much information on what each country was specifically offering besides saying, “technical things, skimmers, booms, you know in some cases expertise.” He said most of the offers came in the weeks after the spill. Despite an offer to assist by an Iranian state oil company, Crowley said there have been official offers of assistance from Iran, and he added that Cuba has not offered assistance either.

He said the State Department’s role “is to accept offers by countries and international organizations and then pass those offers of assistance through channels to this United Area Command. The UAC is actually the entity that makes the decisions based on evaluating what's being offered and what the immediate needs are. As I understand it, some of the early acceptance involved booms to try to contain the spread of oil away from the rig. But beyond that, these decisions are being made down in Louisiana.”

He said the US is not shutting the door on receiving further international offers of assistance as “this remains a significant and formidable challenge for everybody.”

“We are grateful for the assistance that we have been offered internationally. It is something that we evaluate every day,” said Crowley. “But, again, I would defer to others, particularly the Coast Guard, to go through where they are in the process of evaluating particular offers."

- Luis Martinez

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