BP plans to move forward after settlement

Mitchell Hartman Mar 5, 2012

Bob Moon: The big oil company BP has settled with thousands of Gulf Coast residents and businesses for their economic losses and medical claims from its massive 2010 oil spill — to the tune of $7.8 billion. That’s a pretty big number, but today, investors ran towards BP because of the news.

Still, as Marketplace’s Mitchell Hartman reports, a bigger bill may still be yet to come for BP from the U.S. government’s investigation of the disaster.

Mitchell Hartman: Oil industry analysts are saying BP got off pretty easy in this first round in court. Earlier estimates on the cost of BP settling private claims were as high as $14 billion.

Next up: U.S. government charges of violations of the Clean Water Act. Fines and penalties here could go as high as $40 billion, though a settlement instead of a court trial would likely save a bundle for BP and its partners in the Deepwater Horizon rig.

And does all this financial risk deter more deepwater drilling? Not likely, says Manouchehr Takin at the Center for Global Energy Studies in London.

Manouchehr Takin: The world does need oil and the opportunities will continue.

Starting with lots of promising places offshore, in the Gulf of Mexico.

Takin: We have had many billion-barrel fields discovered, the total reserves are tens of billions of barrels. That potential extends further south towards Mexico. We have offshore Brazil deepwater, we have offshore in West Africa.

All in depths unheard of for drilling a decade ago — as much as 18,000 feet below the surface of the sea.

I’m Mitchell Hartman, for Marketplace.

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