Belfast Telegraph

BP could sue its oil partner in spill row

By James Thompson

The oil giant BP is considering launching a lawsuit against its main partner in the Gulf of Mexico, to force it to pay its share of the multi-billion dollar clean-up costs after the disastrous oil spill.

It is thought that BP is reviewing possible legal action after Anadarko Petroleum said BP's "behaviour and actions likely represent gross negligence or wilful misconduct" and that the incident was "preventable".

BP yesterday said no decision has yet been taken on any potential lawsuit. But the oil giant declined to comment further on weekend reports that a senior BP source had accused Anardarko of "shirking its responsibilities" and claiming that a lawsuit in the US was likely to follow.

BP issued a strongly worded response to Anadarko's missive, emphasising its disagreement with other parties will not "diminish" its promise to clean up and pay for legitimate claims relating to the Deepwater Horizon incident.

Tony Hayward, chief executive of BP, said: "Other parties besides BP may be responsible for costs and liabilities arising from the oil spill, and we expect those parties to live up to their obligations."

The position of Mitsui & Co, whose oil unit holds 10% of the Gulf of Mexico well, relating to sharing costs associated with the clean-up is not yet known.

Last week, Mr Hayward faced a grilling in Washington and Barack Obama forced BP to establish a $20bn (£13bn) compensation fund to pay for environmental damage from the oil spill. But this does not include more than 150 lawsuits filed by businesses and people in the region.

On Saturday, BP said it had paid $104m to residents along the Gulf Coast for claims filed as a result of the oil spill. BP said it has received about 64,000 claims to date and that it issued 31,000 cheques in the past seven weeks.

Overall, it has spent $1.6bn so far on cleaning up the spill and last week confirmed it would suspend its $10.5bn dividend.

BP is working on a plan to raise $50bn over two years to cover the oil spill costs. The first tranche of cash could be raised from a bond sale next week, while BP is in talks with banks about receiving a further $20bn in loans. The final $20bn may come from asset sales.