BP Posts $4.2 Billion In Q1 Profits As Its Chemical Dispersants Continue To Harm The Gulf

BP announced its 2013 first-quarter profits this morning, reporting earnings of $4.2 billion — down 10 percent from this time last year but higher than analysts’ forecasts.

Here are some key facts about BP’s profits:

April 20th marked the third anniversary of BP’s Deepwater Horizon explosion that killed 11 workers and spewed 210 million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico over the course of 87 days.

In November 2012, BP agreed to pay a $4.5 billion settlement in criminal charges related to the spill: the largest criminal penalty in history. But a separate, and much larger civil trial, is still underway for Clean Water Act violations and is expected to continue well into this year. Record-setting fines for this trial could reach up to $17 billion if BP is found guilty of gross negligence. On top of that, Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi are seeking an additional $34 billion for economic and property damage under the Oil Pollution Act.


The Daily Beast recently detailed the extreme health effects related to pouring 1.8 million gallons of toxic chemicals into the ocean in the wake of the spill. Corexit, a “dispersant,” was used to keep oil from reaching the Gulf Coast shorelines. In the process, it caused lasting neurological impairments, pulmonary problems, and many other serious ailments for hundreds of cleanup workers and coastal residents. The author, Mark Hertsgaard, explained that BP officials were told exactly how hazardous the chemical was, and lied about it. He told MSNBC in a recent interview that it will be an uphill battle for many people who have incurred huge hospital bills and are still suffering. “BP set aside roughly $8 billion for medical claims,” he said, “but most of the illnesses that these people are suffering from are not covered under that settlement.”

The BP disaster had a deep and lasting health and economic impacts throughout the Gulf Coast region. However, a recent column in the Wall Street Journal editorialized that drilling activity there hasn’t changed much since 2010. The Obama administration’s “toughened” drilling regulations “have amounted to little more than a speed bump for the energy industry,” which is “booming in the Gulf of Mexico.”

The next, and last, of the Big Five companies to announce its first quarter profit will be Royal Dutch Shell on Thursday May 2nd.