The lawyer in charge of BP’s $20bn (£12bn) compensation fund is starting to wind down his operations in the Gulf Coast with just a fifth of the total fund having been paid out.
Ken Feinberg, who was appointed by US President Barack Obama, has closed eight regional offices and told The Telegraph that he does not believe there will many more fresh claims on the fund.
Mr Feinberg has processed more than 80pc of claims submitted by those who have suffered economically following the Deepwater Horizon accident, which killed 11 men in April last year. “I’ve used just over $4bn,” said Mr Feinberg, who also processed payments for families of victims of the 9/11 terror attacks. “I don’t envision a flood of new claims.”
There may be ongoing claims that will drain out a bit more money. But it won’t be much more than 20% of the total funds negotiated that will be used. I don’t know whether this can be attributed to program eligibility or a lack of publicity or bad design. But that number seems quite low compared to the devastation that BP wreaked upon the Gulf Coast.
Keep in mind that Congress never changed the Oil Spill Liability Cap from $75 million, so any claims outside this fund would still be capped. And BP is aggressively hitting up its fellow contractors to share some of the overall cost burden. So while there are violations of the Clean Air and Clean Water Act to come, as perhaps other penalties and fines, the overall cost to BP for the still looks like it will come out far lower than initial expectations.
And considering that analysts are predicting a possible target of $5 a gallon gasoline this summer, BP should be able to make back that money without much trouble at all.