BP says oil spill costs have reached $2 billion

BP PLC said today that its partners in the leaking Gulf of Mexico oil well must share responsibility for the costs in dealing with the disaster, on which BP said it has now spent $2 billion.



BP hit back at Anadarko Petroleum Corp., which has a 25 percent stake in the gushing well, following Anadarko's statement on Friday accusing BP of gross negligence in operating the drilling rig.

BP shares were down 4 percent in early trading in London at 343.4 pence ($5.12).

Anadarko said the joint operating agreement makes BP responsible to co-owners for any damage due to gross negligence or willful misconduct.

In a statement on today to the London Stock Exchange, BP countered that all the partners shared in liability for damage resulting from exploration in Mississippi Canyon Block 252.

"All the co-owners of the leasehold interest previously entered into a written operating agreement under which ... the parties would share the costs of operations, including the cost to clean up any spill resulting from drilling the MC252 exploratory well, according to their respective ownership interests," BP said.

It added that the co-owners had confirmed to the US federal government that they would be liable for oil spill cleanup costs.

On Friday, Moody's Investor Services downgraded Anadarko's long-term debt, and placed the company's ratings under review for further possible downgrades.

Anadarko had no employees on the well and was a non-operating partner in the project. A subsidiary of Mitsui & Co. Ltd. of Japan had a 10 percent stake. BP's share is 65 percent.

The rig was owned by Transocean Ltd. of Switzerland and operated by BP.

In a separate statement, BP said it has now spent $2 billion trying to stop the deep-water gusher, including $105 million for 32,000 damage claims.

With no end yet in sight, costs will continue to rise. BP last week agreed to set up a $20 billion fund to compensate victims of the disaster on the US southern coast.

"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," said BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward in the statement.

"But how the costs and liabilities are eventually allocated between various parties will not affect our unwavering pledge to step forward in the first instance to clean up the spill and pay all legitimate claims in an efficient and fair manner."

Meanwhile a worker on the Deepwater Horizon rig has said he discovered a problem with safety equipment weeks before the explosion.

Tyrone Benton told the BBC's Panorama programme that he identified a fault on a device known as the blowout preventer.

He claimed it was shut down instead of being fixed and a second device was relied on instead.

BP said rig owner Transocean was responsible for the operation and maintenance of that piece of equipment.

Transocean said it tested the device successfully before the blast.

A worker on the Deepwater Horizon rig said he discovered a problem with safety equipment weeks before the explosion.

Tyrone Benton told the BBC's Panorama programme that he identified a fault on a device known as the blowout preventer.

He claimed it was shut down instead of being fixed and a second device was relied on instead.

BP said rig owner Transocean was responsible for the operation and maintenance of that piece of equipment.

Transocean said it tested the device successfully before the blast.

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