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Gulf Oil Spill: BP Could Face Ban as U.S. Launches Criminal Investigation

Oil company's future in doubt as attorney general opens investigation into worst oil spill in American history

By Guest Writers

Jun 2, 2010

By Tim Webb and Ed Pilkington, Guardian

The future of BP was in doubt tonight as the U.S. government launched a criminal investigation into the Gulf of Mexico disaster and some commentators predicted the oil giant would face an operating ban in the country.

The U.S. attorney general, Eric Holder, opened a criminal and civil probe into the worst oil spill in American history. Though he did not specify which companies would be in the cross-hairs of the investigation, the actions of BP are likely to come under close scrutiny.

"We will closely examine the actions of those involved in the spill. If we find evidence of illegal behaviour, we will be extremely forceful in our response," Holder said.

BP shares plummeted by 13 percent today, wiping $17.6 billion off the company's value, as financial markets reacted to the news that oil is likely to continue spewing into the Gulf of Mexico for at least two more months. It was the worst one-day fall for 18 years for what was once Britain's most valuable company.

Political pressure is also mounting from the U.S., where BP's ongoing failure to stem the leak has led for calls to President Obama to take a more hardline approach.

Robert Reich, the former labour secretary under Bill Clinton, today called for BP's U.S. operations to be seized by the government until the leak had been plugged. A group called Seize is planning demonstrations in 50 U.S. cities this week and is calling for the company to be stripped of its assets.

Holder's criminal investigation was launched just hours after Obama promised to prosecute any parties found to have broken the law in the lead up to the disaster.

The president dropped several threatening comments into a 10-minute address from the White House to mark the start of an independent commission he has convened to look into the causes of explosion at the Deepwater Horizon oil well.

City experts advised clients to sell shares following BP's admission over the weekend that the much vaunted "top kill" attempt to bung up the well had failed.

One stockbroker, Arbuthnot, captured the gloomy mood around the company, saying that the disaster "has a real possibility of breaking the company." The key question, it added, was now "can BP survive?"

It said that judging by the increasingly hostile rhetoric coming from the White House, BP might even be prevented from operating in the U.S., which could make it a takeover target.

BP is the largest oil producer in the Gulf of Mexico, and its production growth plans for the next decade are dependent in part on finding new deepwater reserves.

BP said today that its costs from the disaster had risen to $990 million.

Although it is impossible to quantify the full financial impact of the disaster, it seems set to run into the tens of billions of dollars, and the costs will mount as long as the leak continues.

BP will attempt a riskier way of stopping the leak this week, but this could result in the amount of oil increasing and the chances of success appear slim. It hopes to plug the spill in two months, when the first of two relief wells are completed, but this operation could be hampered by the imminent hurricane season.

Today Obama called the oil spill the "greatest environmental disaster of its kind in our history" and said "if laws were broken leading to this death and destruction, my solemn pledge is we will bring these people to justice."

He added that for years the relationship between the oil companies and their regulators has been "too cozy" and said "we will take a comprehensive look at how the oil and gas industry operates."

The U.S. justice department is expected to pursue a dual-track approach in its investigation of BP and the other main entities involved: Transocean and Halliburton.

One track will explore whether the company broke rules in the days and months before the explosion, and the other will look at whether it contravened any environmental laws.

Nothing in this article

Nothing in this article surprises me. It sickens me. Meanwhile BP is cleaning up dead animals in the middle of the night, reporters and photographers are now being kept far away, (sort of like not letting the American people see dead bodies coming back from war), and the Obama administration appears more and more concerned with the politics of this disaster. Well the planet doesn't care about politics, or agencies, or masses of profits, or governments or blame games. The planet is spewing, you wanted the mother lode? You hit the mother lode. In all of my slick glory! Now where are all of you masters of the universe? I keep trying to tell you. Don't mess with Mother Nature. When will you listen?
Stephanie Mcnealy

Customer Service Team

Oil Spill in mexico

Planetresource.net has a Eco friendly solution to clean up the tragedy British Petroleum has created, please watch the video animation:
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