BP Recommits to Serving United States

As Gulf-spill trial begins, oil company vows strong defense

NEW ORLEANS -- Even as BP begins an aggressive defense of itself in the civil trial of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil-rig explosion and resulting oil spill, it is restating its commitment to the United States and to remaining an active oil and gas company here.

Susan Hayden, vice president of sales for BP's East of the Rockies Fuels Value Chain, in a letter addressed to BP marketers, underscored the company's plan to fight in a New Orleans federal district court, where a judge will determine the culpability that BP and other companies have for the accident.

(See File Attachments below to read the full letter.)

The outcome will be instrumental in determining the size of fines the various firms will face under the Clean Water Act, which could total as much as $17.6 billion, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

This, on top of the more than $30 billion in fines BP has already agreed to pay--settlements and cleanup costs for the blowout and spill--has led some analysts and industry watchers to speculate that BP will be broken up or acquired. Hayden, in her letter dated Feb. 25 and obtained by CSP Daily News, suggests that not the case.

"Through all this, our commitment to the U.S. has never wavered," she wrote. "Our history here dates back more than a century, and over the past five years, we have invested more than $55 billion in the United States, more than any other oil and gas company, and more than we invest in any other country where we operate."

Hayden said BP has remained open to reasonable settlements and has been clear since the beginning that it will "not settle with parties on the basis of unreasonable demands which are not based on the merits of the case."

"Accordingly, we are now ready to go to trial, where we will defend the company's interests and contest allegations of gross negligence, she wrote. "Every official investigation to date has found: the tragic fire and explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon was an accident that resulted from multiple causes, involving multiple parties, including Transocean and Halliburton. Gross negligence is an extremely high bar that we believe is unwarranted in this case. Of course, it is the court that will ultimately determine whether BP or any other party was grossly negligent."

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