No end in sight for Gulf oil spill

ON THE GULF OF MEXICO — BP has spent $2 billion in two
months fighting its Gulf of Mexico oil spill and compensating victims, with no
end in sight.

The British oil giant released its
latest tally of response costs, including $105 million paid out so far to
32,000 claimants. The figure does not include a $20 billion fund that BP PLC
last week agreed to set up for Gulf residents and businesses hurt by the spill.

Scores of people and companies have
sued BP for the 20 April rig explosion that killed 11 workers and set off the
worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history. Scientists estimate anywhere from 68
million to 126 million gallons has spilled from the blown-out well on the
seafloor.

It’s likely to be at least August
before crews finish two relief wells that are the best chance of stopping the
spill.

BP is arguing that its partners in
the oil well project must share responsibility for the disaster costs. BP owned
65 per cent of the well, while Anadarko Petroleum Corp. had a 25 per cent stake
and a subsidiary of Mitsui & Co. Ltd. of Japan had a 10 per cent stake.

Anadarko has said the joint
operating agreement made BP responsible for any damage due to gross negligence
or wilful misconduct. BP shot back that all the partners shared in liability
for oil spill damages.

An
internal BP document released by Rep. Edward Markey, D-Massachusetts, indicates
the company believed that the worst-case scenario of oil gushing into the Gulf
could be as high as 100,000 barrels or 4.2 million gallons of oil per day —
the highest figure yet to surface regarding the leaking oil well.

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