David Cameron tells BP chief of oil spill ‘frustration’

David Cameron tells BP chief of oil spill ‘frustration’

Thursday, June 10, 2010

••• David Cameron has told BP’s chairman he is ‘frustrated and concerned’ about the Gulf oil spill, but said it is ‘in everyone’s interests’ for BP to remain ‘financially strong and stable’.

His conversation with Carl-Henric Svanberg comes as the Prime Minister is facing calls to challenge Barack Obama over his comments on BP which have been described as ‘anti-British’.

Mr. Cameron is due to speak to Mr. Obama by telephone on Saturday at 04:00 pm BST (11:00 am EDT).

Speaking about Mr. Cameron and Mr. Svanberg’s discussion, a Downing Street spokesman said the Prime Minister ‘made clear his view that BP is an economically important company in the U.K., U.S. and other countries’.

He added: ‘Mr. Svanberg made clear that BP will continue to do all that it can to stop the oil spill, clean up the damage and meet all legitimate claims for compensation.

‘The Prime Minister said that he would raise the issue – and discuss these points – in his call with President Obama tomorrow.’

Meanwhile, BP chief executive Tony Hayward has told Sky’s City editor Mark Kleinman that he welcomes the ‘very strong’ support from both the political and business community.
He added: ‘The best outcome is to keep BP strong and whole and working well so we can use our financial muscle to deal with this.

‘We have taken responsibility for the spill, committed enormous resources and we will stop the leak, clean up the oil and remediate the environmental impact. I am confident the company has the resources to do that.’

The U.S. President has been accused of using increasingly aggressive language towards the oil firm, which has had billions wiped off its share value over the spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Former CBI director general Lord Digby Jones, who was a trade minister in the last government, said the Prime Minister should make it clear the problem is not just a British one.

He told Sky News: ‘I would like David Cameron to say to the President of the US, ‘look this is an international problem’.

‘This isn’t a British problem, BP is an international company, it employs more people in America than Britain and 40% of its dividend income goes to American pension funds.

‘It’s an American company that built this, it’s an American company that operated this.

‘Is BP to blame, yes, but will you stop calling this a British problem.’
London Mayor Boris Johnson had already demanded an end to the ‘beating up’ of the oil firm, urging the American administration to avoid ‘name calling’ and ‘buck passing’.

And in an open letter the chairman of insurance giant RSA, John Napier, warned Mr. Obama’s criticism was ‘unstatesmanlike’ and lacked ‘balance’.

The threat of a transatlantic row comes as new calculations from the U.S. Geological Survey found that up to 40,000 barrels have been pumping into the sea every day since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded in April, double the amount originally estimated.

BP lost 7% of its value on Thursday as it was hit by heavy falls in the U.S. and concerns that US officials were threatening to seek a ban on dividend payouts crucial to British pension fund investments.

On Friday, the shares pulled out of their nosedive and rose by 8%.

It is claimed BP will seek a deal with the White House that could see the investor payouts held in ‘escrow’ – or deferred – until the group’s clean-up liabilities are clearer.

Or it could propose scrapping the dividend for one quarter or paying it in shares rather than cash, according to reports.

BP has not confirmed whether it will pay future dividends, saying recently this would be discussed by the board next month.

It is due to make the next payout on June 22 and announce the subsequent dividend on July 27.
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• Source(s): Sky News / British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. (BSkyB) / News Corp.


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