BP unlikely to face charges over Gulf oil spill disaster

Friday, January 7, 2011

LONDON - The US Presidential commission on last year’s Gulf oil spill has criticised British Petroleum (BP) for its role in the disaster, but reports indicate that chances of it being charged with gross negligence is less likely.

According to the Christian Science Monitor, BP’s stock price rose up on Thursday, despite being criticised by the commission.

The 102-year-old global conglomerate appears to have recovered nearly two-thirds of its stock value, 10 percent this year alone, after losing half its worth following the explosion.

An extract of the commission’s report on the Gulf oil spill was released on Wednesday, in which the commission said that the accident was primarily caused by systemic failures linked not just to BP, but to contractors Halliburton and Transocean. Government regulators did not have the manpower or training to properly police the drilling industry, the commission added.

The report also found that the failure by BP rig bosses and BP managers in Houston to properly test a slew of changes to the well design as the company prepared to temporarily cap the well added to a misreading of a crucial pressure test. This was among the key causes of the disaster.

However, investors believe that BP would not be charged with gross negligence for its role in the disaster that killed 11 rig workers and caused the worst offshore industrial oil spill in US history.

“What seems to be coming through the report is there was an unfortunate string of accidents which led to the disaster. BP had a near-death experience. But time is a great healer for BP it seems,” Peter Hitchens, a broker with London’s Panmure Gordon and Co., said.

While BP might have drawn some comfort from the report, the company isn’t out of the woods: The issue of its legal liability, which was sidestepped by the presidential commission, is just in the early stages, the report said. (ANI)

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