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BP Oil Spill

May 27, 2010

Spill, leak, greatest environmental disaster of 2010. . .  whatever you want to call it, you may notice I haven’t talked much about it on the blog.   That’s because beyond giving a blow-by-blow update* on what’s happening in the Gulf, which other outlets are handling quite well, I don’t know yet what I want to say about the BP oil spill.

There are two things I can say right now about the leak: 1) though we will not know the full extent of the damage for months or even years, this will be one of the greatest man-made environmental disasters of the decade, and possibly of the 21st century. 2) given that, it is difficult to write dispassionately about the situation.

I will give one little fact: so far reports indicate that BP spent $350 million on the first three weeks of the oil spill cleanup.  This is cleanup costs only, not stock devaluation, damage claims or government fees.  However, considering PB made $24.8 billion in gross profit in 2009 (according to their annual report) that’s a little over a day’s earnings for the company.  What should we make of that?  Estimates are that BP will end up spending somewhere between $2 and $8 billion on the disaster in the end.  This would presumably include cleanup costs, damage claims and government fees plus settlements for damages to Deepwater Horizon workers and their families.  This is a sizable portion of BP’s earnings to be sure, but enough to put them out of business?  Should it put them out of business?  These are things I do not know.

* if you want this, here are a few well-maintained and frequently updated links for spill news:

The official BP Gulf of Mexico response page

Official site of the Deepwater Horizon Unified Command (includes a video on top killing)

Our friends at the US Geological Survey have set up a page with information on the environmental impact of the spill.

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