BP's legal bill for the Gulf oil spill disaster soars to $1bn

The Gulf of Mexico oil spill has cost BP more than $1bn (£614m) in lawyers' fees, the company revealed yesterday, as it announced a further $150m charge to cover its external legal expenses for the disaster.

The legal fees, which do not include payments to BP's team of in-house lawyers working on the various cases associated with the spill, bring the company's total bill for the disaster to $42.7bn.

However, BP admits that the final cost could be far higher because the total does not include further potential claims to compensate Gulf businesses for lost earnings.

The chief executive Bob Dudley said this total amount was extremely difficult to provision for because these payments are currently mired in legal disputes.

Furthermore, BP has not accounted for the possibility that the United States courts could find the group's behaviour in relation to the oil spill to have been grossly negligent.

This is an accusation that the company strenuously denies but which could add more than $20bn to its costs if the courts rule otherwise.

Mr Dudley also revealed BP had created a separate team of "well under 50 people" to work on Gulf of Mexico-related issues, such as government relations and communications, to prevent it interfering with the everyday running of the company.

The oil spill began in April 2010, killed 11 workers, and gushed an estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil before it was capped 87 days later. "This has been going on for four years and will probably go on for years to come," Mr Dudley said.

He also waded into political debates yesterday, saying that the Government was right to push for shale gas exploration and arguing that he would prefer Scotland to remain within the UK.

"It seems absolutely right to see if there is shale... It has brought great economic advantages to North America and it seems to me to be wise at least to see if Britain could be involved," he said, adding that he does not see a role for BP in Britain's shale gas industry.

On the Scottish independence issue, he said: "We have a lot of people in Scotland. We have a lot of investments in Scotland. My personal view is that Great Britain is great and ought to stay together.

"The uncertainty around currency and things like that will be quite practical… It will undoubtedly add cost, through things like new offices," he added.

Mr Dudley also praised the Government for introducing tax breaks that have helped make mature North Sea oil fields economically viable, as "the UK as an oil province is definitely past its peak".

BP said that its profits tumbled to $2.8bn in the fourth quarter, from $3.9bn a year earlier, as weak margins on refining business slashed downstream profits from $1.4bn to just $70m.

The company was helped by strong performances from some of the businesses it hasn't sold in regions such as the North Sea, Angola and the Gulf of Mexico.

BP said that last year was one of the most successful years for exploration drilling for almost a decade, with seven discoveries in countries such as Brazil and Angola.

The company's full-year profits dropped by 22 per cent to $13.4bn, and so far it has purchased $6.8bn of the $8bn buyback programme announced last March.

Although BP's profits fell strongly, it avoided the profits warnings issued by its competitors BG and Chevron.

News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Extras
indybest
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

AIFMD Business Analyst / Consultant - Investment Management

£450 - £600 per day: Harrington Starr: AIFMD Business Analyst / Consultant - I...

Business Analyst Solvency II SME (Pillar 1, 2 & 3) Insurance

£450 - £600 per day: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Solvency II SME (Pilla...

Manager - SAS - Data Warehouse - Banking

£350 - £365 per day: Orgtel: Manager, SAS, Data Warehouse, Banking, Bristol - ...

SQL DBA/Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL DBA/Developer
 SQL, C#, VBA, Linux, SQL Se...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?