A boat glides through the heavy sheen of oil as it skims near the site of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday.

BP should set aside billions of dollars to cover the costs of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, U.S. federal and state politicians said Sunday.

Senator Harry Reid plans to send the company a letter Monday, asking it to set up an account with $20 billion US to pay for the problems caused by the spill.

President Barack Obama also wants BP to establish an escrow account, managed by a third party, to cover damage claims. He has not named a figure.

BP is aware of the suggestion, which will be on the agenda when company executives meet Obama this week.

British reports over the weekend suggested that the company will announce Monday that it will defer paying its next dividend and put the money in an escrow account until the costs of the disaster are determined.

Its dividend is about $2.6 billion a quarter.

Two Gulf states, Florida and Louisiana, want BP to put a total $7.5 billion in escrow accounts to cover cleanup costs and losses by individuals.

Other states affected by the spill, including Alabama, Mississippi and Texas, either have no plans to demand an escrow account or have not stated a public position.

With files from The Associated Press