News / USA

BP Agrees to $20 Billion Fund After Meeting with Obama

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden meet with BP executives in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, 16 Jun 2010, to discuss the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden meet with BP executives in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, 16 Jun 2010, to discuss the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico


In a meeting on Wednesday with President Barack Obama, BP executives agreed to create a $20 billion fund to compensate people and businesses harmed by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  BP's chairman apologized for the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history, saying that BP is "fully aligned" with Mr. Obama and his administration on the need to stop the leak and compensate for damages.

After weeks of criticism that he should have held a face-to-face meeting with BP officials long ago, President Obama sat down with BP board chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg, Chief Executive Officer Tony Hayward, and other officials and company lawyers.

The meeting lasted far longer than expected.  When he finally appeared before the media hours later, President Obama addressed the key outcome of the discussions.

"This $20 billion will provide substantial assurance that the claims people and businesses have will be honored.  It is also important to emphasize this is not a cap [a maximum amount of money]," said President Obama. "The people of the Gulf have my commitment that BP will meet its obligations to them."

The independently-administered fund will be overseen by Kenneth Feinberg, the attorney who oversaw a fund that paid compensation to families of victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States

Calling the talks with BP "a good start," the president said the company also agreed to set aside $100 million to compensate oil workers who are unemployed because of the government-imposed ban on new offshore drilling.

Speaking to reporters outside the White House after the president, BP Chairman Svanberg announced that the company's board decided that the firm will not pay dividends for the rest of the year.

He issued an apology, saying that BP is determined to regain the public's trust.

"I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to the American people on behalf of all the employees in BP, many of whom are living on the Gulf coast," said Carl-Henric Svanberg. "And I do thank you for the patience that you have [had] in this difficult time."

Svanberg declined a specific answer when asked whether BP took safety shortcuts that contributed to the oil spill, saying only that the company is conducting a series of investigations.  He added that BP's board of directors will conduct its own independent investigation to make sure that the root causes of the disaster are understood.

Addressing the nation on Tuesday night, President Obama said the Gulf oil spill demonstrates the need for improved regulation of the petroleum industry.  He also made clear that he wants to mobilize the country and the U.S. Congress to commit to a new energy policy.

"For decades, we've talked and talked about the need to end America's century-long addiction to fossil fuels," said Mr. Obama. "And for decades, we have failed to act with the sense of urgency that this challenge requires.  Time and again, the path forward has been blocked - not only by oil industry lobbyists, but also by a lack of political courage and candor."

With the president attempting to create political momentum to pass energy legislation, a version of which the House of Representatives already has approved, Mr. Obama's speech sparked a new round of criticism from opposition Republicans on Capitol Hill.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell repeated criticism by members of his party that Mr. Obama is trying to use the Gulf oil disaster to advance his political agenda.

"I wish the president would have used this opportunity to focus entirely on stopping the spill and cleaning it up instead of using this crisis as an opportunity to push for a new national energy tax," said Mitch McConnell.

Republicans assert that energy and climate change legislation President Obama and Democratic lawmakers want amount to a tax - including a proposal for a "cap and trade" system to limit carbon emissions by creating a commodity market for them.  

Democratic Senator Richard Durbin reflected feelings in Congress that BP should be prepared to pay long-term restitution for economic and environmental damages.

"I want to make certain that BP continues in business and meets its responsibility, that it sets aside the funds necessary to protect our nation from the damage which they have caused," said Richard Durbin.

With President Obama intensifying efforts to pass energy legislation, the White House announced a meeting next week between the president and a key group of Senate Democrats and Republicans next week.   

The president's face-to-face meeting with BP officials came as the company announced it had set up a second containment system to capture leaking oil.

Government scientists say as much as 60,000 barrels of oil have been leaking from the damaged well - 50 percent more than earlier estimates.

Earlier, BP pledged to increase capture rates to more than 50,000 barrels by the end of June.  But the new figures have increased concerns that the environmental damage caused by the spill will be even more severe before BP can complete relief wells in August.

Related video report by Mil Arcega:

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syriai
November 26, 2015 5:21 AM
Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs