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U.S. House speaker slams BP over dividend as estimate for oil spill up

06-11-2010 13:43 BJT

WASHINGTON, June 10 (Xinhua) -- U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday slammed British energy giant BP over dividend payment as the U.S. scientists studying the Gulf of Mexico oil spill estimated the BP well could have been spewing some 40,000 barrels of crude a day into the Gulf.


While asked if BP should stop awarding the shareholder dividend and focus on funding the cleanup of the worst oil spill in the U.S. history, Pelosi said: "Yes of course, and that would be their best public relations, instead of taking out all these ads."

"They made 17 billion dollars last year. They should be paying these small businesses first," Pelosi told reporters at the White House after U.S. President Barack Obama met with congressional leaders of both parties.

Pelosi also accused BP of "lack of integrity."

"It is clear that there was a lack of integrity on the part of BP when it came to what it told us about the adequacy of their technology, the sufficiency of blowout prevention and the capacity to clean up," she said.

The Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, owned by Transocean and leased by BP, sank on April 22 some 52 km off Venice, Louisiana, after burning for roughly 36 hours. The untapped wellhead has continued gushing oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

BP has come under mounting pressure from vocal political opponents in the U.S. not to pay its dividend as scheduled next month until the full costs of the oil spill have been met.


On the same day, scientists raised their estimate of the amount of crude oil flowing from BP's well in the Gulf of Mexico.

"The lowest estimate that we're seeing that the scientists think is credible is probably about 20,000 barrels, and the highest that we're seeing is probably a little over 40,000," Marcia McNutt, director of the U.S. Geological Survey and chair of a U.S.-government-led flow rate assessment team, told reporters.

The new estimates are higher than the prior "best estimate" of 12,000-19,000 bpd issued on May 27 by the Flow Rate Technical Group.

"Our scientific analysis is still a work in progress. In coming days we'll be refining our estimates further," McNutt said.

The White House has called the spill the biggest environmental disaster that the country has ever faced. Determining how much oil escaped the well is key to establishing liability in the spill.


U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said Thursday the huge oil spill was a matter between the U.S. government and a private company and not going to hurt U.S.-Britain relations.

"BP is a private company and this is about the impact of the tragedy ... not about the relations between the United States and its closest ally (Britain)," Crowley told reporters in a briefing.

"The British people understand the frustration and anger the American people are seeing in this. It is not going to affect our relationship," Crowley said.

Earlier, British Prime Minister David Cameron said that he would discuss BP's handling of the disaster with Obama when the two leaders were expected to hold a telephone conversation at the weekend.

"This is an environmental catastrophe. BP needs to do everything it can to deal with the situation and the UK government stands ready to help," Cameron said during a visit to Afghanistan.


BP's chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg and "appropriate officials" have been requested to a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama next Wednesday. The request was made by Admiral Thad Allen, U.S. National Incident Commander, in a letter sent directly to the BP chairman on Thursday.

"As part of our ongoing communication, I request that you and any appropriate officials from BP, meet with senior Administration officials on Wednesday, June 16, 2010 to discuss these timely issues. President Obama will participate in a portion of this meeting," the letter reads.

The letter comes as many have been pressing for the Obama administration to meet and speak directly with BP officials including CEO Tony Hayward.

The meeting, if accepted by BP, would be the first time that Obama has met, or talked directly, with BP executives since the April 20 oil rig explosion in the Gulf.


Editor:Zhang Pengfei |Source: Xinhua

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