BP says it will appeal a possible $18 billion dollar fine for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, but its shares on both sides of the Atlantic suffer their worst daily slide in more than four years. As Hayley Platt reports, an appeal could mean a fine is still years away.
It was the worst offshore environmental disaster in US history. It could also result in a fine of historic proportions. BP may have to pay $18 billion dollars after a U.S. judge ruled it 'grossly negligent' for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster which killed 11 workers. The exact number of barrels leaked into the Gulf of Mexico is disputed. BP say it was just over 3 million. The U.S. government say it was closer to 5 million. Either way, BP could be looking at paying a penalty of more than $4,000 a barrel. Nearly four times what would levied if there'd been a simple 'negligence' ruling. The numbers exclude 810,000 barrels BP paid for during the clean up. The judge is yet to rule on the question of damages. And it could take years before the case is fully resolved. But IG's Brenda Kelly says the bill may eventually have to be settled. SOUNDBITE: Brenda Kelly, Market Analyst, IG, saying (English): "It will be very interesting to see whether or not they can appeal and successfully but it does seem that this court ruling, it's been going on for such a long period of time, I do sense that they may actually have to stump up the cash." The news comes at a time when many oil firms are struggling to cut costs in the face of shrinking profits. It caused shares on both sides of the Atlantic to fall almost 6 percent. And though it's unlikely to impact the dividend, it could put off investors in the near-term. SOUNDBITE: Brenda Kelly, Market Analyst, IG, saying (English): "It's very likely that we will see a little bit of sympathetic pull back in other oil companies as well but until we hear about that for sure I would be more inclined to get involved with other oil companies." BP has already faced $42 billion in charges related to the spill and paid $4.5 billion in relation to a criminal case. Along with any fine from this ruling, it could also face lengthy bills to fund environmental restoration work in the Gulf and other claims.