So just when you think there could be no more ink spilled about the BP oil spill disaster, there’s more.
We had news over the weekend that there’s a proposed $7.8 billion deal in the civil trial related to the spill, which BP would pay from $20 billion in funds set aside for claims and expenses. The New York Times says the initial reaction to the proposal has been positive. “It’s a good thing for BP because it is a good step forward,” said one hedge fund exec, Nancy Schmitt from Taum Sauk Capital Management, comparing this to the 20 years it took Exxon to resolve its spill case. “[A]s an investor, that’s what you want to see.”
And the plaintiffs seem to be warming up to it. So this is good. But, oh BP, there’s a but.
We also have word that Tony Hayward was paid $1.1 million in shares of the company in February. You’ll recall that Hayward had to step down because of his handling of the spill. He also made nearly $200,000 in 2011 in fees from a joint venture in Russia.
The new CEO, Bob Dudley, is making millions, and stands to make more, which would put him in line with what other oil industry leaders are making.
“We recognize a concern by government, and society at large, of excess in this area, but cannot ignore the reality of a global competitive market for top executive talent,” says BP’s annual report.
“We respect investors’ expectation for pay to be strongly tied to performance while also wanting to ensure that executives receive fair reward for their achievements,” the report continues. The message: oil industry fat cats keep getting fatter even when problems for everyone else persist. Not so good.
In January, we reported on the company’s sponsorship of tourism ads for the Gulf. And now, the company is taking steps to move away from the scene of the crime somewhat, “marketing” a couple of its refineries (trying to sell them, including one in Texas) to focus on locations closer to the Canadian border where they say things are cheaper.
According to The Hill, exit polls from Super Tuesday show gas prices and the economy were top issues for voters. After 27 days of increases, the national average for the price of gas has finally dropped… by less than a penny. It’s now $3.76 per gallon.
As the company continues its reputation repair, it’s also continuing to build its business. Though it still has a ways to go, it’s being helped along by the importance of the energy industry as much as by anything that the company is actively doing.