BP gets $4bn Deepwater Horizon payoff

Anadarko, which owned 25% of the Macondo well, has agreed to contribute to BP's clean-up costs. But is resolution still a pipe dream?

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 03 Jan 2012
Could BP’s 18-month oil spill nightmare be a step closer to its conclusion? Anadarko, which had a 25% stake in the well that blew up in April last year, killing 11 workers and leaking 5m barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, has agreed to pay the oil giant $4bn (£2.5bn) in clean-up costs. That money will go straight into the $20bn trust established by BP to pay for claims from individuals, business and the government, which are still being processed. Although BP seems to have got the raw end of this particular deal.

Indeed: BP has already totted up its total costs for the spill, and it works out at about $42bn, minus the $3.5bn in charges it’s already paid. By rights, considering the size of its stake, that should have left Anadarko with a $9.6bn bill. But as part of this (out-of-court, natch) settlement, the company has also given up its stake in the well, and agreed to drop the allegations of gross negligence it was pursuing against BP. To be fair, it’s contributing more than Japanese-owned Moex, which had a 10% stake in the well but earlier this year paid a mere $1bn into BP’s trust…

This is one of the final agreements to be made among the well’s stakeholders, which have spent the past 18 months engaged in furious in-fighting. BP’s chief exec, Bob Dudley, used the settlement as an opportunity to rebuke Transocean (the rig’s operator) and Halliburton (the contractor which provided the cement to seal the well). ‘There is clear progress, with parties stepping forward to meet their obligations and help fund the economic and environmental restoration of the Gulf,’ he said, adding rather pointedly: ‘It’s time for the contractors, including Transocean and Halliburton, to do the same.’

Even if the two do get a sudden surge of conscience and rush forward with their contributions, that won’t quite be the end of the ordeal. In February, the company will stand trial in New Orleans (along, incidentally, with Transocean and Halliburton) to determine liability for the blow-out. If it’s found guilty of gross negligence, it’ll be slapped with even higher fines. This could make the sorry saga drag on even longer…

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