The US Government has set up a 72-hour deadline for BP to present a plan to clean up the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The US Department of Justice intends to take legal action to ensure that BP has enough funds to cover the damage and compensate those affected by the slick, a move that would likely upset shareholders, according to the BBC.

US House lawmakers have sent a letter to BP chief executive Tony Hayward urging the firm to stall dividend payout and cancel advertising campaigns, and to be more open.

BP claims it will almost completely contain the ruptured oil well by the early part of next week.

The containment cap placed on the blown-out well is helping to contain some of the leaking oil and is estimated to be catching up to 630,000 gallons daily, according to US Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen.