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Oil spill puts financial pressure on BP

[ 2010-06-04 16:16]     字号 [] [] []  
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Oil spill puts financial pressure on BP

This is the VOA Special English Economics Report.

BP is one of the world's largest energy companies. It reported a profit of about six billion dollars in the first three months of this year. That was more than double compared to a year ago.

Now, BP faces growing political pressure over the worst oil spill in American history. Oil has been flowing from its damaged well in the Gulf of Mexico for almost seven weeks.

But the company formerly called British Petroleum also faces growing financial pressure. Investors fear the long-term costs for cleanup, recovery and fines. BP's market value fell more than 60 billion dollars as its share price fell by as much as a third.

On Thursday BP was finally able to cut a damaged pipe at the well using robotic vehicles. The cut was not exactly as hoped, but it was progress. Crews then turned to placing a cap over the pipe -- not to stop it, but to direct at least some of the oil to ships on the surface. The leak is about 1,500 meters under the sea.

Yet it may not be fully controlled before August. Workers are drilling two relief wells in an effort to ease pressure on the damaged well.

The Deepwater Horizon, an oil and gas drilling rig, exploded on April 20th.

This week, Attorney General Eric Holder announced criminal as well as civil investigations.

ERIC HOLDER: "The Department of Justice will ensure the American people do not foot the bill for this disaster and that our laws will be enforced as much as possible."

By some estimates, the cost of the cleanup could reach 37 billion dollars.

The owner of the rig, Swiss company Transocean, has asked to have its responsibility limited to 27 million dollars. The request is based on a law from 1851. But the Justice Department says that is not enough.

The government could also use violations of other federal laws such as the Clean Water Act to collect money for the spill.

Oil has already reached more than 100 kilometers of coastline in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. And it threatens the west coast of Florida.

Areas of the Gulf have been closed to fishing. But job losses in the fishing industry are not the only worry. The Atlantic hurricane season officially began Tuesday. Some people worry that officials could take their land if it becomes polluted by oil in a storm.

ONE RESIDENT: "If it gets on land, will they make us leave?"

ANOTHER RESIDENT: "If we have a hurricane and the oil washes over the land, they will condemn it. We'll lose our homes, we'll lose everything."

And that's the VOA Special English Economics Report, written by Mario Ritter. I'm Steve Ember.

Related stories:

Oil spill threatening fishing economy, culture in Louisiana

President Obama promises changes to prevent future oil spills


BP has new plan to contain oil spill

(来源:VOA 编辑:陈丹妮)