FACTBOX-Liabilities BP faces from Gulf oil spill

Tue Aug 10, 2010 4:15pm GMT

By Jeremy Pelofsky

WASHINGTON Aug 10 (Reuters) - Now that BP Plc's (BP.L: Quote)(BP.N: Quote) ruptured oil well has been cut off with concrete, the focus will turn to restoring the U.S. Gulf Coast and the mountain of legal issues the company will face. Here are some of the liabilities BP may face.


* The Justice Department is investigating the spill on a number of fronts, including criminal and civil violations of environmental laws that could lead to billions of dollars in fines.

For every barrel of oil that was spilled into the Gulf of Mexico -- the latest estimate is 4.1 million -- there could be a fine of $4,300 per barrel if gross negligence is found. That would equal a fine of $17.63 billion. If no gross negligence is found, the fine is up to $1,100 per barrel, or $4.5 billion.

There also could be additional fines for any harm to animals protected by the Endangered Species Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, among other environmental laws.

So far more than 1,800 visibly oiled birds have been collected alive and more than 1,700 visibly oiled birds found dead. Additionally, more than 400 sea turtles have been found alive with visible oil and 17 dead.

Further, the Justice Department could bring additional criminal charges if investigators find anyone had engaged in obstruction of justice or made false statements.

This probe is not limited to BP, and could ensnare other companies that were part of the well drilling operations, including drill operator Transocean Ltd (RIG.N: Quote) and Halliburton Co (HAL.N: Quote) which did cement work.   Continued...

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