Sunday 25 June 2017

BP blunders on -- with a $10bn bill for US taxpayers

Tom Bergin in Washington

BP's new chief executive last night described the Gulf oil spill as a "wake-up call" for the entire industry as the company counted the cost of the worst environmental disaster in US history.

Bob Dudley, who will replace gaffe-prone Tony Hayward as CEO on October 1, said safety would be among his highest priorities as he tried to refurbish the oil company's battered reputation.

His already formidable PR "to do" list may have become even tougher after BP said it would offset the cost of the spill against its taxes, a move that will cost US taxpayers almost $10 billion at a stroke.

Yesterday the oil giant reported a second-quarter loss of $17bn, including $32bn in charges related to the oil spill, the largest in US history. It also announced plans to sell $30bn in assets over the next 18 months to help cover liabilities.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission and Department of Justice have launched "informal inquiries" into securities matters related to the spill, BP said.

More than 5 million barrels of oil have spilled into the Gulf of Mexico since the undersea leak began in late April, according to US government estimates. The spill, caused by an explosion that killed 11 people, has devastated communities and fragile ecosystems along the Gulf Coast, killing or injuring countless sea creatures and coastal birds.

Private lawsuits have piled up. Attorneys hoping to lead the legal fight against BP are heading to the unlikely venue of Boise, Idaho, this week as a special judicial panel considers how to handle all the cases.

BP's US-listed shares dipped 1.5 pc in afternoon trading. BP has lost about 40 pc of its market value since the explosion.

The stock had gained on Monday after reports surfaced that Hayward would be ousted as CEO after a series of public relations blunders, including complaining he wanted his "life back" weeks after the start of the spill.

Irish Independent

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