BP mulls lawsuit over share of oil spill costs

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The Independent Online

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, following Anadarko saying BP's "behaviour and actions likely represent gross negligence or wilful misconduct" and that the incident was "preventable", in a statement on Friday night.

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

But, on Friday night in the US, 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.

In the same statement, Tony Hayward, the 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 a 10 per cent stake in 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 in the Gulf of Mexico. BP said it has received about 64,000 claims to date and that it issued 31,000 checks in the past seven weeks.

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

Meanwhile, BP is thought to be 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 is likely to come from asset sales.

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