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BP wants to stop paying Gulf oil spill victims
by Staff Writers
Chicago (AFP) July 8, 2011

BP wants to stop paying most people affected by the massive 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill for potential future damages because the region has recovered, a document released Friday said.

The tourism industry is booming, all federal fishing grounds have reopened, and the shrimp catch has been plentiful, BP said.

"The current economic data do not suggest that individual and business claimants face a material risk of future loss caused by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill," BP said in a 29-page document filed with the Gulf Coast Claim Facility, which is handling compensation claims.

The British oil giant is responsible for covering the costs of the cleanup, restoring the damage, paying huge environmental fines, and compensating people whose livelihoods were affected by the biggest maritime oil spill in history.

Hundreds of miles of fragile coastal wetlands and beaches were contaminated and a third of the Gulf's rich US waters were closed to fishing after the April 20, 2010 explosion which killed 11 workers and sank the Deepwater Horizon.

By the time the well was capped 87 days later, 4.9 million barrels (206 million gallons) of oil had gushed out of the runaway well 5,000 feet below the surface and some 50 miles (80 kilometers) off the coast of Louisiana.

BP estimated in its latest quarterly report that the spill would ultimately cost $41.3 billion and warned of "significant uncertainty" surrounding the company's ultimate exposure.

However, that cost could shrink significantly if it ends up not tapping the full $20 billion it set aside to compensate spill victims.

The compensation fund has so far paid more than $4.5 billion to more than 195,000 claimants and made around $430 million in additional offers that are under consideration by claimants.

BP said it "remains committed to paying all legitimate claims" but said a "reevaluation" of the formula for calculating damages is required due to "the current state of the Gulf economy."

It said oyster fishermen whose beds were destroyed by the oil should continue to receive payments for future economic damages.

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