Analysis: BP oil spill report may prompt $30 billion pay-out

Fri Sep 16, 2011 10:29am EDT
 
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By Tom Bergin - Analysis

LONDON (Reuters) - Findings of the second major investigation by the U.S. government into the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, may press BP into putting over $30 billion on the table to quickly settle its outstanding legal headaches.

The report, released on Wednesday, was even more damning of BP's behavior than the Presidential panel's findings, which were issued in January and February. Both reports also highlighted mistakes made by BP's contractors, driller Transocean and cement specialist Halliburton.

The investigations have not left London-based BP eager to face the Department of Justice or civil claimants in court.

"We would like everything settled as soon as we can, otherwise you have lingering reputation issues and investor uncertainty," one insider said after the latest report.

BP declined to comment on its legal strategy.

Companies often drag out litigation, as payments in the future have less value than payments now.

Exxon Mobil fought claims related to the 1989 Valdez spill for almost 20 years, confident it could beat down the massive sums sought by, and initially awarded to, its opponents. In the end, it was largely successful.

But BP's case is not seen to be as strong. The Valdez spill happened when a drunk captain guided his tanker onto a reef, while the official investigations put most of the blame for Macondo on BP management structures and decisions.   Continued...