Could BP Lose Its U.S. Assets?

Could the U.S. confiscate BP's U.S. assets?Talk has begun among people in Washington that BP plc's (BP) long line of safety violations, which culminated in the Deepwater Horizon disaster on April 22, could cost the energy company all of its assets in the U.S.

According toBloomberg, "BP Plc Chief Executive Officer Tony Hayward's failure to set safety standards to prevent the Gulf of Mexico oil spill may cost the company control over U.S. oil fields, refineries and pipelines that account for more than one-third of its sales, lawmakers and analysts said." The news service added, "Citing a five-year string of accidents and deadly disasters at BP-operated facilities, Representative Bart Stupak suggested the poor safety record could justify banning the London-based company from doing business in the U.S." BP has built a $100 billion business in America through M&A and expanded drilling.

What is not clear is whether the U.S. has the legal right to rescind BP's ownership of assets. Several legal experts have said that the U.S. government did not even have the right to force BP to set up a $20 billion escrow account to cover costs of the largest oil leak in U.S. history. What is certain is that if the Administration or Congress try to take BP's assets, there will be a long legal fight over whether America has the authority to make such a move and, if so, how BP should be compensated.
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