18 Jun 2010

Louisiana treasurer puts spill bill at $150 billion

9:48 pm on 18 June 2010

The treasurer of the American state of Louisiana estimates the damage from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill could be as much as $US150 billion for his state and others along the Gulf Coast.

The latest environmental and economic damage estimate was released as BP's chief executive was gettign a roasting from a congressional committee in the US capital, Washington.

Tony Hayward was told by angry representatives that his firm had a reckless disregard for safety when drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

Committee chairman Henry Waxman, a Democrat, said BP's corporate complacency had been astonishing. He said the company "cut corner after corner" to save time and money.

Another Democratic, Mike Ross, reminded Mr Hayward that, for all its efforts to do so, BP had so far failed to stop the leak.

Mr Hayward said that he was deeply sorry for the spill, and that the company would not rest until it was stopped, but that he was constrained from answering the committee's questions until investigations into the accident were complete.

A '$20 billion shakedown'

Republican Congressman Joe Barton said however that while he agreed BP should explain its actions, he was "ashamed" to see the company having to set up a compensation fund.

It was, he said, a "$US20 billion shakedown".

Oil has been gushing into the Gulf since an explosion and fire on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig on 20 April, in which 11 men died. The rig sank two days later.