It may take decades to know how badly BP PLC’s (NYSE: BP) business prospects worldwide were hurt by the huge Deepwater Horizon incident. However, it put a financial price on the incident.
BP announced today that following significant progress in resolving outstanding claims arising from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon accident and oil spill, it can now reliably estimate all of its remaining material liabilities in connection with the incident.
As a result, taking into account this estimate together with other positive tax adjustments, BP expects to take an after-tax non-operating charge of around $2.5 billion in its second quarter 2016 results.
This charge is expected to include a pre-tax non-operating charge associated with the oil spill of around $5.2 billion. This would bring the total cumulative pre-tax charge relating to the Deepwater Horizon incident to $61.6 billion or $44.0 billion after tax.
BP believes that any further outstanding Deepwater Horizon-related claims not covered by this additional charge will not have a material impact on the Group’s financial performance. It will deal with remaining claims in the ordinary course of business.
By late 2014, BP’s shares had recovered nearly 69% from the time of the incident. The drop in oil prices cut that recovery over the period from the incident to the present to 20% recently.
The share price does not entirely tell the story. Rivals, particularly Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM), were unencumbered by billions of dollars of charges. They could continue to put large sums toward exploration and production. BP certainly must have lost some ground, which it ultimately may never recover.
Management reminded investors about what a long road it had been, and one that is not entirely over:
Brian Gilvary, BP chief financial officer said: “Over the past few months we’ve made significant progress resolving outstanding Deepwater Horizon claims and today we can estimate all the material liabilities remaining from the incident. Importantly, we have a clear plan for managing these costs and it provides our investors with certainty going forward.”
Gilvary reconfirmed that BP expects to continue to use proceeds of divestments to meet Deepwater Horizon commitments in line with the financial framework laid out in previous quarters.
A year ago, BP reached agreements to settle outstanding federal, state and local government claims arising from Deepwater Horizon. In the months since, BP has made much further progress in resolving outstanding claims arising from the incident.
Six years of payouts is a long time to manage the fallout from the largest oil spill in history.