TEXAS CITY, Texas – Tar balls from the Gulf oil spill found on a Texas beach were confirmed Monday as the first evidence that gushing crude from the Deepwater Horizon well has reached all the Gulf states.

A Coast Guard official said it was possible that the oil hitched a ride on a ship and was not carried naturally by currents to the barrier islands of the eastern Texas coast, but there was no way to know for sure.

The amount discovered is tiny in comparison to what has coated beaches so far in the hardest-hit parts of the Gulf coast in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle. It still provoked the quick dispatch of cleaning crews and a vow that BP will pay for the trouble.

“Any Texas shores impacted by the Deepwater spill will be cleaned up quickly and BP will be picking up the tab,” Texas Land Commissoner Jerry Patterson said.

The oil’s arrival in Texas was predicted Friday by an analysis from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which gave a 40 percent chance of crude reaching the area.

“It was just a matter of time that some of the oil would find its way to Texas,” said Hans Graber, a marine physicist at the University of Miami and co-director of the Center for Southeastern Tropical Advanced Remote Sensing.

About five gallons of tar balls were found Saturday on the Bolivar Peninsula, northeast of Galveston, said Capt. Marcus Woodring, the Coast Guard commander for the Houston/Galveston sector. Two gallons were found Sunday on the peninsula and Galveston Island, although tests have not yet confirmed its origin.

Woodring said the consistency of the tar balls indicates it’s possible they could have been spread to Texas water by ships that have worked out in the spill. But there’s no way to confirm the way they got there.

The largest tar balls found Saturday were the size of ping-pong balls, while the ones found Sunday were the size of nickels and dimes.

Galveston Mayor Joe Jaworski said he believed the tar balls were a fluke, rather than a sign of what’s to come.

“This is good news,” he said. “The water looks good. We’re cautiously optimistic this is an anomaly.”

The distance between the western reach of the tar balls in Texas and the most eastern reports of oil in Florida is about 550 miles. Oil was first spotted on land near the mouth of the Mississippi River on April 29.