BP Hemorrhaging Money Almost As Fast As Oil

It’s hard to feel sorry for the oily, Gulf-destroying folks at BP as news of the company’s troubles continues to mount. According to a report released today, BP has spent $450 million so far on efforts to fight the oil leak, currently spilling at least 750,000 litres of crude a day into the Gulf of Mexico. The $450 million price tag is up $100 million from the company’s last report, released on Monday. Doug Suttles, BP’s chief operating officer, yesterday said that the price tag was increasing by $10 million a day.

BP, Transocean Ltd. (the company that leased the Deepwater Horizon to BP) and Halliburton Co. are the most prominent companies linked to the spill. So far, nearly 100 lawsuits relating to the spill have been filed across the Gulf region. Workers injured in the April 20 explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon have taken legal action, and wrongful-death claims have been filed by some of the families of the 11 people who died. Fishermen, restaurants, charter boat companies, hotels and rental property owners have also filed suits.

“You’re talking about the entire economic structure of five states and all their ancillary businesses,” said Tim Howard, a Tallahassee lawyer who last week filed one of Florida’s first class-action suits over the oil spill.

“You’re talking maybe about close to a half a trillion dollar economy here,” Howard added. “This is why you do not mess around and play around with something toxic.”

According to legal experts, BP is also likely to face criminal charges. The White House has already asked Congress to lift the $75 million cap on civil liability designated by the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, but criminal charges brought by federal prosecutors would have no upward limit.

Since the accident, BP shares have, of course, plummeted. So far, the company has lost somewhere in the ballpark $30 billion from its market value. Here’s hoping that in the wake of the spill BP doesn’t have enough money to run the inevitable full-page print ads and TV spots letting us all know how “green” they are.

See this story told in photos at The Big Picture.

–Evan Rosser