How Much Will The Worst Oil Spill In U.S. History Cost?

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has cost $930 million so far , BP said this morning.

It's too soon to say how much the spill will eventually cost. But it will be a lot more than $930 million.

The number released this morning includes "the cost of the spill response, containment, relief well drilling, grants to the Gulf states, claims paid and federal costs" to date, the company said.

But the seafood and tourism industries alone are likely to lose billions of dollars in revenue because of the spill, the Miami Herald reports this morning.

Federal law currently caps oil companies' liability at $75 million per spill; Congress is debating raising the cap to $10 billion, as NPR noted earlier this week.

BP, for its part, has said it will "pay all necessary response costs and is committed to paying legitimate claims for other loss and/or damage caused by the Deepwater Horizon incident."

One bill introduced in Congress would essentially write this promise into law, requiring BP to pay liability claims over $75 million.

The company is certainly big enough to survive paying billions of dollars in spill-related costs. It made a profit of $17 billion last year, on revenue of $246 billion.

Still, its stock has fallen sharply since the spill. That could make it a possible takeover target for Shell or Exxon/Mobil, which are even bigger than BP, Reuters notes.

Of course, such a deal would have to win the approval of government antitrust regulators. They might be wary of Big Oil Turning into what Reuters calls "Even Bigger Oil."

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