BP must be given 'certainty' on liabilities: British PM

16th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

Energy giant BP must be given "certainty" about the level of its liabilities from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, British Prime Minister David Cameron said Wednesday.

"While it is important that they pay reasonable claims -- BP accept this themselves -- they do need a level of certainty," he told BBC radio, hours ahead of a meeting between BP's chairman and US President Barack Obama.

"This is BP's worry, the (need for a) level of certainty that there won't be claims entertained that are three, four times removed from the oil spill," he added.

Cameron insisted BP was not "running away" from its responsibilities, while also downplaying any diplomatic rift between London and Washington over the spill.

"The important thing is this should not become an issue between the US and the UK. President Obama doesn't want that, I don't want that," he said.

"I am very clear that we must make sure that BP is an important company, its financial stability is in our interests and in America's interests, and I will always make that clear."

The comments came after Obama -- who was due to meet BP chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg at the White House Wednesday -- vowed to make BP pay for the "recklessness" that led to the massive spill.

Obama said he would order Svanberg to accept the creation of an independently-controlled escrow account to compensate "the workers and business owners who have been harmed as a result of his company's recklessness."

On Tuesday, a new assessment from US experts said between 35,000 and 60,000 barrels per day was now believed to be spewing out of the ruptured well.

If the upper estimate is true it would mean almost the same amount of crude -- more than ten million gallons -- that spilled from the Exxon Valdez tanker off the coast of Alaska in 1989 is gushing into the Gulf every four days.

© 2010 AFP

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