BP cuts oil spill burden

Mitsui’s exploration unit MOEX owned 10 per cent of the Macondo well but had sought to avoid paying its share of the costs, claiming BP’s negligence exempted it from this obligation. MOEX has dropped this claim and analysts said this weakened the case of 25 per cent well shareholder Anadarko Petroleum, which has also invoked the same argument.

BP has estimated the cost of capping the well, cleaning up the damage from America’s largest ever offshore oil spill and compensating those affected will be over $41 billion, including what analysts estimate will be around $4-5 billion in fines. Mitsui's payment covers its contribution toward the cost of capping the well, cleaning up the oil and compensating those affected. Hence, the Japanese company is paying less than a third of its potential liability for these elements.

On this basis, Anadarko could be liable for almost $2.7 billion, toward these elements of the total cost. However, one source close to the matter said BP was likely to seek a higher rate of recovery from Anadarko than it received from Mitsui, which did not have a direct liability to pay since it invested through MOEX, which had few assets.

Anadarko on the other hand does have a direct legal liability as it has invested directly in the well. Anadarko Chief Jim Hackett said earlier this month he would be prepared to come to the table and settle it.

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