Following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill that killed 11 men and caused unknown damage to the Gulf of Mexico and its inhabitants, BP, the company primarily responsible for the spill, set up a compensation program in order to reimburse those affected by their negligence. Now the company is arguing against their own Settlement Agreement, claiming that they are being forced to pay “fictitious and inflated claims.”
According to Brian Barr, attorney with Levin, Papantonio and a member of the Plaintiff’s Steering Committee for the BP Gulf Coast Oil Spill litigation, the chairman and president of BP America, John Minge, wrote an opinion letter “as part of a recently-launched publicity campaign,” which suggests that the company is being mistreated and forced to pay too much.
“The campaign is a carefully planned attempt to intimidate businesses and their attorneys who have properly filed claims according to the terms BP agreed to under the Settlement Agreement… In 2010 and 2011, when the Settlement was being negotiated, BP was very concerned. It was facing governmental, legal, and public attacks for the total absence of corporate integrity that led to the worst oil spill the world has ever seen, the death of 11 men, vast environmental damage, and the destruction of the Gulf Coast economy,” said Mr. Barr.
In attempt to salvage their public image and protect the financial well-being of the company, BP negotiated and authored the Settlement Agreement that they now claim is being abused. The company has thus far been unsuccessful in arguing against the terms they established last year.
BP generates about $400 billion a year, and it is projected to pay about three months’ worth of earnings in compensation to the victims of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. “It is ironic that BP talks about people ‘getting something for nothing’ when that’s exactly what BP is trying to do,” Mr. Barr added.
The company is attempting to play the victim, when, in fact, the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill disaster is far from being their only violation or act of willful negligence. According to the Center for Public Integrity, two BP refineries accounted for 97 percent of all “flagrant violations” found in the refining industry from 2008 to 2011. BP received 862 citations between 2007 and 2012, 720 of which were classified as “egregious willful.”
A representative for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said that BP has a “serious, systemic safety problem in their company.”
In 2005, BP’s Texas City Refinery explosion killed 15 workers and injured 170 others. The company acquired the refinery as part of its 1999 takeover of Amoco and neglected to make appropriate safety upgrades to the refinery. BP Senior Group Vice President for Safety & Operations called the disaster a “preventable incident,” and in 2009, OSHA fined BP over $87 million, the largest fine in OSHA’s history.
“Today, at the time of its current multi-million dollar PR campaign, BP has plead guilty to 11 counts of felony manslaughter for the deaths it caused on the Deepwater Horizon. The difference between BP and most other convicted felons is that it has millions of dollars to spend trying to falsely convince the public that it is being mistreated by the American judicial system in the enforcement of a settlement that it negotiated, and to which it agreed,” said Mr. Barr.
Alisha is a writer and researcher for Ring of Fire.