From: Jeffrey Jones, Reuters
Published June 19, 2010 06:19 AM

Partner puts blame on BP, claims negligence

BP Plc's costs for the worst spill in U.S. history appeared set to rise as a partner in the out-of-control well laid the blame at BP's feet and the new federal czar overseeing damage claims said BP would pay more if $20 billion was not enough.

The British oil company said it would not be distracted by a dispute with Anadarko Petroleum Corp. The owner of a quarter of the well gushing into the Gulf broke its near-silence on the spill to squarely pin blame -- and financial responsibility -- on BP.

"There appears to be gross negligence or willful misconduct," Houston-based Anadarko Chairman and CEO Jim Hackett said in an interview that helped to drive his company's shares up 2.2 percent in after-hours trading on the hopes it could avoid multi-billion-dollar liabilities.

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BP said it "strongly disagrees" with the assessment of gross negligence but would keep its focus squarely on the Gulf, cleaning up the spill and plugging the well.

The new federal administrator of a fund to pay for damages told CBS News it would be a "horror" if BP went bankrupt but the $20 billion fund agreed upon by BP and the White House could rise if it proved insufficient.

President Barack Obama has seen his popularity slip over his handling of the spill and lawmakers in both major parties used hearings with BP and other oil industry officials this week to gather ammunition ahead of November elections.

Gulf residents, from state officials to citizens on the blighted beaches, see costs skyrocketing with the collapse of the fishing industry, a deep water oil drilling moratorium and growing environmental destruction along the coast.

Photo shows BP CEO Tony Hayward testifying about the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico at the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Capitol Hill, June 17, 2010.
Credit: REUTERS/Larry Downing

Article continues: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN1416392020100619

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