BP’s Partners Will Not Set Up Gulf Oil Claims Fund

By Tom Doggett | July 23, 2010

The two oil companies that are BP’s partners in the now-capped oil well told Congress Thursday they will not set aside money for cleanup costs along the Gulf Coast because it is BP’s responsibility.

Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and MOEX, a unit of Japan’s Mitsui & Co., said they do not need to create a special fund to deal with spill-related costs because BP had a 65 percent interest in the well and was its exclusive operator.

“We have not set money aside,” Anadarko Chairman James Hackett told a Senate subcommittee looking into the oil spill. “We are not paying.”

Naoki Ishii, president of MOEX, said his company “has no established fund” to cover cleanup costs or liability claims they may be ordered to pay relating to the spill.

Anadarko owns 25 percent of the project and MOEX has 10 percent.

At the urging of the White House, BP set up a $20 billion fund to pay future liability claims for lost income from businesses and workers due to the spill and other costs.

Lawmakers rebuked Anadarko and MOEX for failing to set up their own funds.

“You look like you’re not stepping up,” said Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill.

“Right now the people who are in the Gulf need the money, not the litigation,” said Republican Senator John McCain.

Hackett said under their joint operating agreement with BP, “no party is required to pay any costs or damages to the operator to the extend that they are incurred as a result of the operator’s gross negligence or willful misconduct.”

Lawmakers shot back that nobody was asking Anadarko or MOEX to pay anything, but to begin setting aside some money in case a court finds the companies liable.

(Reporting by Tom Doggett; Editing by David Gregorio)

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