Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and Mitsui & Co. should pay into a multibillion dollar fund for claims tied to the leaking Gulf of Mexico oil well the companies co-own with BP Plc, U.S. Representative Edward Markey said.
“They cannot escape responsibility,” Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, said yesterday on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital With Al Hunt,” being broadcast this weekend. Both companies should be “contributing to any fund that is constructed for any part of the reconstruction.”
BP agreed after a meeting June 16 with President Barack Obama to put $20 billion over four years into a fund that will be independently administered by lawyer Kenneth Feinberg. The fund won’t cap BP’s liability for cleanup costs and economic damage, Obama said after the White House meeting, and won’t supersede the rights of individuals or states to sue the company.
Markey said BP managers “clearly are incompetent” and faulted their “ostrich-like posture” after the April 20 explosion that killed 11 workers. Markey, chairman of the energy and environment panel of the House Energy Committee, also said the Obama administration should lift maritime restrictions and let foreign-owned vessels take part in the Gulf cleanup.
Anadarko, based in The Woodlands, Texas, owns a 25 percent stake in the Gulf project. Mitsui, Japan’s second-largest trading company, owns 70 percent of Mitsui Oil Exploration Co., which holds a 10 percent stake.
‘Worst Has Happened’
Markey said BP’s partners are investors “for better or for worse” and should be prepared to bear the costs of damages from the well, which is spewing as much as 60,000 barrels a day.
“So here, yes, the worst has happened,” Markey said. “They are part of the totality of the solution as well as what they hoped to be a very profitable operation.”
Anadarko Chief Executive Officer Jim Hackett said yesterday his company will look to BP to pay all claims from the spill. London-based BP’s “reckless decisions and actions” caused the accident and documents show it failed to heed “several critical warning signs” during drilling, Hackett said.
“BP’s behavior and actions likely represent gross negligence or willful misconduct and thus affect the obligations of the parties,” Hackett said in a statement.
Hackett said revenue Anadarko is due from the oil being collected by BP from the ruptured well will be donated to charities along the Gulf coast.
BP disagreed with Anadarko’s allegations, CEO Hayward said in a statement yesterday. the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
“How the costs and liabilities are eventually allocated between various parties will not affect” BP’s plan to clean up the spill and pay all legitimate claims, Hayward said.
“With regard to the issue of the escrow account, drawing an immediate conclusion about the underlying matters at hand would be premature,” a Mitsui Oil Exploration subsidiary said in a statement.
BP, majority owner of the project, won’t ask the partners to pay into the escrow account, spokesman Tristan Vanhegan said yesterday in an interview, before the Anadarko statement.
Anadarko shares have dropped 42 percent since the April 20 explosion that caused the spill, and Mitsui shares have declined 25 percent. Anadarko rose 97 cents, or 2.3 percent, in New York trading yesterday. Mitsui fell 63 yen, or 5.2 percent, to 1,143 yen in Tokyo.
BP’s American depositary receipts, each representing six ordinary shares, have tumbled 47 percent since the accident. They rose 5 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $31.76 in New York trading yesterday.
Markey said he would fire BP Chief Executive Officer Tony Hayward, who was slammed by lawmakers during seven hours of testimony before a House panel two days ago.
Markey and members of the Energy and Commerce panel blasted BP’s safety record and spill response, and accused Hayward of evading their questions. Hayward said at least 23 times that he wasn’t involved in decisions about the well, according to a transcript of his testimony.
Asked if the U.S. should continue to do business with the present management, Markey said, “If I had my way they would be gone, but they are the management team right now.”
The U.S. should try to “extract what we can” from BP. If the management goes “back into their ostrich-like posture, then that is the time to say they have to go,” he said.
BP’s Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg told Sky News yesterday that Hayward was no longer controlling the day-to-day operations of the cleanup. Bob Dudley, managing director of the oil giant, has taken over that role, the news agency said, citing an interview.
Markey said the Obama administration should consider waiving the Jones Act, which requires ships operating in U.S. waters to be owned and operated by U.S. companies, as part of an “all-hands-on deck” spill response.
“We have to look at all parts of the world to find the help we need to ensure that we minimize the harm that is done to the people who live in the Gulf region,” said Markey, chairman of the House Energy Committee’s energy and environment panel.
The Department of State said in a report yesterday it is considering offers of vessels from the European Maritime Safety Agency, the Netherlands, Russia, Sweden and Vietnam.
Markey said the Gulf disaster has highlighted the need for a new U.S. energy policy.
The House in June 2009 passed climate-change legislation that caps carbon dioxide emissions, a measure that has stalled in the Senate.
Democrats including Senator Dianne Feinstein of California have said they lack the 60 votes needed to move climate legislation in the Senate.
Markey said energy legislation that caps carbon dioxide and other greenhouse-gas emissions could still pass Congress if the president used his “bully pulpit” to push the bill.