deepwater horizon: Ixtoc 1 a bigger spill

If your criterion for the worst oil disaster is the greatest volume of oil leaked, then the Lakeview Gusher of 1910 released at least twice as much oil into a semi-desert area of California as this leak has released so far. This leak is without question the worst oil disaster at sea in United States history, but it does not yet match the volume of an Mexican oil-well blowout known as Ixtoc 1, also in the gulf, in 1979-80.

effects of the oil spill? Under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, BP, the owner of the well, has been named the “responsible party” and bears the brunt of liability for the spill. That means the company must foot the bill for the cleanup efforts and pay claims for economic damage, as well as penalties under the law. Other companies involved with the well could find themselves drawn into litigation.

BP is owned by investors all over the world. BP estimates that about 40 percent of their shares are owned by British investors, and nearly as much by American investors. Another 10 percent are owned by other Europeans, and the remaining 10 percent by investors from other countries outside Europe. Since much of the stock is owned by mutual funds, it is not easy to determine the exact percentages of the nationalities of its owners. Suffice it to say, many Americans and Britons depend on BP dividends. here

Anadarko Petroleum, has a 25 percent stake in the project, and its joint operating agreement with BP gives it a 25 percent share of the liability, a potentially ruinous amount. “The mounting evidence clearly demonstrates that this tragedy was preventable and the direct result of BP’s reckless decisions and actions,”

Mitsui Oil Exploration Company of Japan, which owns the remaining 10 percent of the well, said the company had given up its interest in oil from the well. The company may be hoping that relinquishing its interest will shield it from liability,

Lloyd’s of London may cover BP’s “excess liability” in cleanup and other costs. under its Transocean contract affording protection to pollution “originating above the surface of the land or water.” here

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