British energy giant BP said yesterday it had sharply increased the amount of oil it was capturing from its ruptured Gulf of Mexico well, but it is not clear how much crude is still gushing out.


The London-based company’s share price closed down 5 percent in London after President Barack Obama said he wanted to know “whose ass to kick” over the massive spill.


He told NBC’s “Today” show that if BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward worked for him, he would have fired him over his response to the 50-day-old spill, the worst environmental disaster in U.S history.


BP faces a criminal investigation and lawsuits over the April 20 explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that killed 11 workers and triggered the massive spill. Some 120 miles of U.S. coastline have been soiled in the disaster that threatens the Gulf Coast’s multibillion-dollar fishing industry.


After the spill, the Obama administration imposed a six-month moratorium on new drilling permits for exploration and development wells in waters deeper than 500 feet. U.S. officials also refused to approve new drilling in shallow waters until new rules were issued.

A U.S. Interior Department official said the department would issue those amended rules yesterday.

BP said yesterday it had collected 14,800 barrels of oil Monday, 33 percent higher than the amount collected Sunday and the highest capture rate since it installed a new system to contain the oil spill last week.