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Entries in BP (17)

Tuesday
Feb262013

BP Sets Out to Disprove Negligence Claims in Gulf Spill Civil Trial

U.S. Coast Guard via Getty Images(NEW ORLEANS) -- Almost two years after the explosion and fire on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, opening statements for the largest environmental lawsuit in history began in court Monday.  

In order to avoid billions of dollars in damages, BP will have to prove that errors that led to the oil spill do not indicate gross negligence. Melanie Driscoll was among the activists gathered outside the court Monday. She believes BP was grossly negligent.

"Putting their bottom line ahead of human life, bird life, our seafood, our economy is unacceptable. It's a price the American people have paid and we want BP to have to pay that price," Driscoll said.
 
In this first phase of the lawsuit, the court will focus exclusively on the cause of the explosion and fire aboard the Deepwater Horizon in April of 2010.  That part of the proceedings could last more than three months in a trial that will last over a year.  

BP already has been found guilty of negligence in a criminal trial; now a judge will set out to determine the civil damages and who'll get how much of the potential $17 billion in fines.  

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Apr242012

BP Arrest Made on Criminal Charges

U.S. Coast Guard via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The flow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon disaster two years ago was much larger than BP had publicly stated, according to charges filed Tuesday by the Justice Department. The information was revealed in the criminal complaint against former BP engineer Kurt Mix, who was arrested Tuesday on charges of intentionally destroying evidence.

The charges against Mix, 50, mark the first criminal case brought by the Justice Department in the wake of the April 20, 2010, blowout on the oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, and provides evidence that BP might have misled the public and the government about the flow rate of oil pouring into the Gulf. The Deepwater Horizon blowout and resulting explosions at the Macondo well killed 11 people and resulted in the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history.

Mix worked on internal BP efforts to estimate the amount of oil gushing from the well and was involved in efforts to stop the flow. Court documents allege that Mix deleted a text he had sent on the evening of May 26, 2010, at the end of the first day of an effort to cap the well called "Top Kill."

In the text exchange with a BP supervisor, Mix wrote, "Too much flowrate – over 15,000."

At the time, BP's public estimate of the flow rate was 5,000 barrels of oil per day, three times lower than the minimum flow rate indicated in Mix's text.

Mix allegedly deleted more than 200 texts with his supervisor but many of them, the FBI affidavit notes, have been recovered using forensic tools.

In addition, the Justice Department charges that Mix allegedly deleted more than 100 text messages with a BP contractor concerning how much oil was flowing from the Macondo well after the blowout. Mix allegedly deleted those texts after learning that his iPhone was about to be imaged by a vendor working for BP's outside counsel.

The FBI affidavit states that Mix noted in his initial estimates that early flow rates coming from the Macondo well ranged from 64,000 to 138,000 barrels of oil per day in the immediate aftermath of the explosion.

"The department has filed initial charges in its investigation into the Deepwater Horizon disaster against an individual for allegedly deleting records relating to the amount of oil flowing from the Macondo well after the explosion that led to the devastating tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico," Attorney General Eric Holder said. "The Deepwater Horizon Task Force is continuing its investigation into the explosion and will hold accountable those who violated the law in connection with the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history."

If convicted, Mix faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 as to each count.

An official statement from BP said the company would cooperate with "the Department of Justice and other official investigations into the Deepwater Horizon accident and oil spill."

It suggested the company had "clear policies" about preserving evidence. But the company would not comment specifically on the allegations against Mix.

"We will not comment on the government's case against former BP employee Kurt Mix and we will continue cooperating in the Department of Justice's investigation," according to the statement from BP's corporate office.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Mar032012

BP, Plaintiffs Reach Settlement on Gulf Oil Spill 

NASA/GSFC/LaRC/JPL, MISR Team(NEW ORLEANS) -- BP announced on Friday that it has agreed to a settlement with Plaintiffs' Steering Committee to resolve economic loss, property damage and medical injury claims from the oil spill.

"From the beginning, BP stepped up to meet our obligations to the communities in the Gulf Coast region, and we've worked hard to deliver on that commitment for nearly two years,” BP Group CEO Bob Dudley said. "The proposed settlement represents significant progress toward resolving issues from the Deepwater Horizon accident and contributing further to economic and environmental restoration efforts along the Gulf Coast."

The cost of the proposed settlement is estimated to be about $7.8 billion—making it one of the largest class-action settlements in history.

The settlement does not, however, involve the Justice Department and a spokesman said, “Although we remain open to a fair and just settlement, we are fully prepared to try the case.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Feb272012

BP Oil Spill Trial Postponed Until March 5

Hemera/Thinkstock/BP/PRNewsFoto(MYRTLE GROVE, La.) -- Less than 24 hours before the environmental “trial of the century” was set to begin, the presiding judge, BP and lawyers representing a coalition of plaintiffs agreed on Sunday to postpone its start one week in order to allow room for a possible settlement.

“This is the biggest liability suit in the history of the world,” New Orleans environmental litigation attorney Stuart Smith said.  “Just writing a check for this is not that easy.  The damages are still occurring, and the oil is still washing up on the shores.  The challenge for BP to settle now is there are too many moving parts.”

MOEX, one of the minority partners in the doomed Deepwater Horizon well, settled out of court with the federal government last week for $90 million, after a $220 million settlement that rig operator Transocean made with the government.

If the case against BP goes to court, the total estimated payout for BP in punitive damages and government fines is predicted to be in the tens of billions of dollars.

BP’s Deepwater Horizon well exploded on April 20, 2010, killing 11 rig workers and spilling nearly 200 millions of gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico for 86 days.

Officials from BP and the coalition of plaintiffs’ attorneys calling itself the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee would not comment on the details of any possible settlement being negotiated. Still, they agreed on Sunday to postpone the trial to March 5.

Emails released by the federal government show BP apparently knew that its initial estimates of the leak, officially at 42,000 gallons a day, were likely far higher.

The emails apparently show that BP actively tried to hide that information from the Coast Guard.  Government data later showed the spill to be a near open-hole situation, with 2.6 million gallons leaking every day.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Feb262012

BP Trial Delayed by a Week to Discuss Settlement Plans

PRNewsFoto(NEW ORLEANS) -- BP and the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee announced on Sunday that the start of the Deepwater Horizon Multi-District Litigation trial has been adjourned a week by the U.S. District Court.

The adjournment is intended to allow BP and the PSC officials more time to discuss settlement plans in hopes of reaching an agreement. The officials will discuss how best to compensate the people and businesses affected by the Deepwater Horizon accident that killed 11 people and spilled over 180 million gallons of oil into the Gulf in 2010.

The civil trial is slated to be held on March 5.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Dec142011

BP Wins $27 Million in Gulf Oil Leases

US Coast Guard via Getty Images(NEW ORLEANS) -- The Interior Department announced Wednesday that BP can officially return to deep water exploration in the Gulf of Mexico.

In a lease sale, in which the British oil company bid $109.9 million on 15 leases for oil and gas rights in the western Gulf, 11 leases worth $27.4 million went to BP, according to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

The lease auction was the first since BP's Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf last year.  

"Today's lease sale, the first since the tragic events of Deepwater Horizon, continues the Obama administration's commitment to a balanced and comprehensive energy plan," Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a statement online.

Michael Bromwich, former director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, defended the Interior's decision to include BP in the sale.

"They don't have a deeply flawed record offshore," Bromwich said, according to the National Journal.  "We've done analyses over time on the relative safety records of offshore operators and they were in close to the top crew."

Bromwich added, reports National Journal, that officials close to the matter concluded that issuing an "administrative death penalty" was not necessary based solely on BP's one incident.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May102011

Senate Finance Committee to Hear from Big Oil Execs at Hearing Thursday

Comstock Images/Thinksto(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Montana's Sen. Max Baucus, will hold a hearing Thursday morning with the executives of the five oil companies targeted by the Democrats’ new bill, called the Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act.

The new measure is intended to scrap $2 billion in tax subsidies each year for the five largest and most profitable oil companies and, in turn, apply the savings to paying down the federal deficit.  

The committee will ask John Watson, Chairman of the Board and CEO of Chevron Corporation; Marvin Odum, U.S. President of Shell Oil; H. Lamar McKay, Chairman and Presidnt of BP America Inc.; James Mulva, Chairman and CEO of ConocoPhillips; and Rex Tillerson, Chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil, to defend the subsidies, especially in the wake of recent high oil company profits.
 
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Tuesday said he plans to kick off debate on the new bill on Wednesday, with a vote scheduled “in the next week.”
 
“Every year oil companies get billions of dollars of subsidies from the American taxpayers,” Reid said. “Common sense tells us these oil companies do not need these huge subsidies. We've had executives of these oil companies who have said so in the past. Recently the former CEO of Shell has said that. And economists recognize that these subsidies, if we took them away, would not affect gas prices at all."

Reid continued, "The only purpose these subsidies serve is to line the pockets of these oil companies. The most effective way to bring down the deficit is to start now and make good, smart choices. Putting seniors ahead of oil companies should be a no-brainer.”

But the Democrats face an uphill battle in passing their measure. It will need 60 votes to advance, a long shot in a chamber where there are only 53 Democrats and even some of them -- like Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu -- don’t support the measure. Republicans have vociferously opposed the bill.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Apr272011

Top Five Oil Companies Have High Expectations for Earnings

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- BP and ConocoPhillips announced their first quarter earnings on Wednesday, continuing the week when the biggest oil companies begin to release their 2011 profits. With rising gas and oil prices, analysts expect the five biggest oil companies to announce that they are swimming in revenue.

ConocoPhillips announced that its first quarter earnings increased 43 percent to $3 billion from $2.1 billion in the same period last year. BP's first quarter earnings were down this year -- $5.48 billion compared with $5.60 billion during the first quarter a year ago -- including a charge of $384 million related to oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Valero Energy, based in San Antonio, Texas and the largest independent U.S. refiner, announced on Tuesday a first quarter profit of $98 million "primarily due to higher margins for diesel and jet fuel" compared to a first quarter loss last year of $113 million.

Energy behemoth Exxon Mobil is scheduled for Thursday while Chevron is slated for Friday. Marathon Oil, based in Houston Texas, will announce its earnings next week on May 3.

On Tuesday, the price of light, sweet, crude oil futures settled at $112.21 a barrel. Many analysts are waiting to see if oil prices will break the most recent high of Sept. 22, 2008, when oil settled at $120.92 a barrel.

The national average for regular gas is $3.88 a gallon, the highest since August 2008, according to the Department of Energy this week.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Apr182011

'Spillionaires' Profiting off BP Oil Spill

U.S. Coast Guard via Getty Images(ST. BERNARD PARISH, La.) -- The massive BP oil spill that devastated the Gulf Coast has turned out to be an economic boon for local governments and businesses, and even spawned a new word describing those who are profiting off the disaster -- "spillionaires."

Basic goods -- from bottles of water to port-o-johns, boats and lumber -- are all being sold to BP at inflated prices, often 20 times the going rate.

"It's been very good for our business, I'll tell you that," said businessman Ronnie Hyer, whose company sells safety equipment to cleanup crews.

A team of government-contracted biologists are currently renting a modest four-bedroom home at a rate of $30,000 per month, and the petroleum company seems to have no problem footing the bill.

Mike Utsler, chief operating officer for BP's Gulf Coast Restoration Organization, told ABC News the company wasn't focused on price -- it just wants to deliver results in a timely manner.

"Our focus was getting people, getting equipment and meeting the challenges of this historic response," Utsler said.  "No matter what it took at that point in time."

When BP and the government set up an army of 48,000 cleanup workers, businessmen like Hyer sold the company anything from Tyvek suits to kitty litter scoopers, causing his business to increase 1,000 percent.

But Wayne Landry, a councilman in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana thinks that the nearly $18 billion BP spent could have been put to better use.  In fact, he said his parish -- and others -- have "raped" BP.

"[We] wanted a better impact on the money, instead of gouging them on certain costs," he said.

Despite the criticism, local governments are raking in tax revenue, thanks to the cleanup efforts.

St. Bernard Parish saw a 96 percent spike in sales tax receipts.  Nearby Plaquemines Parish experienced a 70 percent increase.

But while there are plenty of "spillionaires" profiting from the cleanup efforts, tens of thousands of claimants are still waiting for their piece of the $20 billion settlement fund. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr142011

BP Holds First Shareholder's Meeting Since Gulf Disaster

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- In London, they're holding the first BP general shareholders' meeting since the disastrous spill in the Gulf of Mexico.    

The meeting has focused on the anger felt by many still affected on the Gulf Coast. Mindful of mood, BP Chairman Carl Henric Svanberg addressed the issue head-on. "Everyone at BP is shocked and saddened that this accident happened."

"We will do all that we can to prevent such an accident from happening again, he promised.

But critics aren't so sure that lessons will be learned.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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