(Source: International Business Times)

  (Source: Newsweek)

  (Source: TIME)
Potential fines total up to $9 billion

After publicly criticizing BP Tuesday night for the way they've handled the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, President Barack Obama is meeting with BP executives today at the White House to demand that they pay for the damages the leak has caused.

Obama spoke from the Oval Office last night calling this spill "the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced" and plans to tell BP Chairman Henric Svanberg to "set aside whatever resources are required to compensate the workers and business owners who have been harmed as a result of his company's recklessness." 

Obama, in addition to the Oval Office speech and today's forthcoming meeting with BP leaders, took a two-day trip to the Gulf of Mexico this week to once again assess the damage done by this massive spill. The president has decided that he wants BP to create a fund that will pay the billions of dollars needed to clean up the Gulf. 

"This fund will not be controlled by BP," said Obama. "In order to ensure that all legitimate claims are paid out in a fair and timely manner, the account must and will be administered by an independent, third party." 

Based on a $4,300 per barrel fine and tens of thousands of barrels spilling each day, estimates show that BP owes up to $9 billion in fines for the oil leak, and these numbers are rising. Also, BP may be losing out on a $7 billion deal with Devon Energy in an attempt to buy Brazilian assets and may continue losing government contracts as expanded production becomes "tougher to achieve as it draws more scrutiny from regulators for new projects." 

Siphoning operations had to stop temporarily due to a lightning strike, so the drill ship Discoverer Enterprise isn't helping BP's situation either. Before the delay, these drill ships were collecting 15,000 barrels of oil a day. To make matters worse, shares in BP have lost close to half their value since the spill started two months ago. 

BP executives said they were actually looking forward to their meeting with the president today saying, "We share the president's goal of shutting off the well as quickly as possible, cleaning up the oil and mitigating the impact."

The amount of crude oil spilling from the well, according to scientists, has increased by 50 percent and is leaking between a range of 35,000 to 60,000 barrels per day. The oil has spread to and ruined 120 miles of U.S. coast killing wildlife and seriously crippling the tourist/fishing industry.

A White House official said, "The president has authority under existing law to assure that the legal obligations of the responsible party have been satisfied. We are satisfied that the president can use this authority to accomplish the purposes served by an escrow fund and independent claims payment procedure."

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