Biz Brief: BP Oil Spill Costs Reach $1.6 Billion as Board Discusses Dividend

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The BP (BP) board will meet on Monday in London to discuss U.S. demands to suspend dividend payments until the company pays for the cleanup of the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. BP also faces a U.S. deadline Monday for a plan to raise oil-containment capacity as President Barack Obama has demanded an escrow account for damage claims related to the spill. So far, the cleanup costs have reached $1.6 billion.

Meanwhile, Obama begins a two-day visit to the Gulf Coast to view the damage from the worst environmental disaster in the nation's history. He will address the nation Tuesday night to outline the next steps in responding to the environmental catastrophe, his senior adviser said Sunday.

Despite the mounting pressure, analysts believe BP is unlikely to scrap the dividend altogether. It has other options, such as deferring it, paying it into shares or paying it into a ring-fenced account. With BP executives due to meet Obama in Washington on Wednesday, it's likely no decision will be announced before that.

BP shares declined 3.8% in recent premarket trading to $32.65.
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