VENICE, LA (CNN) -- Venice, Louisiana (CNN) -- Oil is being siphoned from the ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico to the surface, where it's flowing on board a ship, BP said Friday.
The news comes after the oil company lowered a cap over the ruptured well Thursday night. On Friday, BP was planning to close four vents atop the containment cap, through which oil was still gushing into the Gulf.
The company hoped very little oil would escape once the vents were shut, BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles said. He said he was optimistic that the "cut and cap" operation, which hit a snag earlier in the week, will be successful.
"I think it should work," he said.
President Obama, who told CNN's Larry King that he was "furious with the entire situation," was heading to Louisiana on Friday to meet with political and business leaders.
Obama canceled a trip to Asia for a third tour of the oil-affected Gulf Coast, underscoring the gravity of the crisis. He plans to see firsthand the slick along coastal communities and environmentally sensitive ecosystems.
Oil has already hit barrier islands off Mississippi and Alabama, and Friday, it seemed inevitable that Florida beaches would not be spared.
"You can't help but be passionate about Florida," Gov. Charlie Crist said Friday about the state's natural beauty and the importance of tourism. He added that strong leadership was needed to get through the crisis.
"You've got to keep a cool head in order to win a hot game."
BP completed a complex underwater maneuver Thursday night when it lowered the cap over the ruptured well after slicing off a damaged pipe. It was unable to achieve a fine cut on the pipe, leaving open the possibility that the seal on the cap would not be snug enough to prevent oil from leaking.
The progress was applauded but with caution.
"The placement of the containment cap is another positive development in BP's most recent attempt to contain the leak. However, it will be some time before we can confirm that this method will work," Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Tony Russell said. "Even if successful, this is only a temporary and partial fix, and we must continue our aggressive response."
Thursday's developments followed days of setbacks for workers trying to cap the well, which has spewed hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil a day into the Gulf of Mexico for six weeks.
An effort to slice off the pipe with a precision diamond-edged cutter failed Wednesday, forcing BP to settle for a rougher cut of the pipe made with shears. The well may not be completely sealed off until August, when BP hopes to finish drilling a relief well.
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