US Environment Protection Agency suspends UK oil giant from bidding for new US business contracts
Symbolic gesture or real threat? It’s hard to tell the seriousness for BP of today’s temporary ban from bidding for US contracts.
What we do know is that BP was taken completely by surprise when the US Environmental Protection Agency imposed a suspension due to the UK company’s “lack of business integrity”.
That alone may be significant, as it reflects BP’s difficulty in gaining legal finality after the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010. The $4.5bn (£2.8bn) settlement of criminal charges a fortnight ago seemed to be a big step forward, and was presented by BP as such. Now this.
Stock market investors were relatively sanguine – BP’s shares fell a shade under 2%.
It may be that the suspension is lifted soon, in which case everybody can concentrate once again on the civil actions against BP. The alternative plot, though, is highly serious: BP’s future in the US would be on the line. No wonder the company’s response, when it finally came, included a long passage about the $52bn invested in the US in the past five years and the 23,000 Americans on the payroll.
But is US officialdom listening?