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BP faces ban over US oil spill

Britain’s biggest oil company was facing an environmental disaster expected to cost more than the Exxon Valdez tanker spill as thousands of tonnes of floating oil began to reach the US Gulf coast.
None | By The Guardian, London
UPDATED ON MAY 01, 2010 11:18 PM IST

Britain’s biggest oil company was facing an environmental disaster expected to cost more than the Exxon Valdez tanker spill as thousands of tonnes of floating oil began to reach the US Gulf coast.

As several coastal states declared a state of emergency and dispatched clean-up crews, BP was desperately trying to stem the flow of crude from its damaged offshore platform and to snuff out a growing political storm that has wiped billions of pounds off its share price.

US President Barack Obama sent officials from the department of justice to monitor the company’s handling of the crisis, while lawyers acting for victims of two earlier BP disasters in the US called for criminal charges and a ban on its activities there.

Fadel Gheit, an oil analyst at Oppenheimer & Co in New York, said the ultimate costs of dealing with the slick could rival that of the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska, which led to $3.5bn in clean-up costs and $5bn in legal and financial settlements. “This is a real pickle — it’s a really challenging one. It's going to be difficult to choke off this spew of oil. Any solution is going to take time and I really think the cost here is going to be in the billions of dollars.”

Eleven offshore workers are missing, presumed dead, after the initial explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig last week.

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