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BP may pay billions for `missed signals' that led to disaster

November 09/2010

(Bloomberg) -- BP Plc remains at risk for billions of dollars in fines and legal costs even after a U.S. commission said safety wasnt sacrificed for profit in the weeks and days leading up to the worst U.S. offshore oil spill.


The presidential panel said yesterday it found no evidence so far that BP, operator of the Gulf of Mexico well that erupted in April and spewed 4.9 million barrels of crude, intentionally jeopardized safety to cut costs. The catastrophe stemmed from several very human decisions made by competent persons who missed signals, said William Reilly, co-chairman of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.


The panels finding contradicted allegations by environmental groups, lawmakers and a joint U.S. Coast Guard- Interior Department board that BP cut corners to rein in costs and pressured employees to accelerate work on the Macondo project in the Gulf.


The London-based energy producer still may be held liable in civil and criminal courts, said David Uhlmann, a University of Michigan law professor. BP has a broader corporate culture that does put profits ahead of safety, and that message permeates throughout the company and down through the rank and file, Uhlmann said in a telephone interview. BP will still have to pay tens of billions of dollars in natural resources damages and compensation to victims for economic losses.


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BP may pay billions for `missed signals' that led to disaster

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