$8 billion – this is the likely cost of the BP oil leak, which spilled 206 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Whilst the oil leak has been stopped for some time, there were ongoing concerns that the leak would re-appear due to the underwater pressure. The cost of stopping the leak has been substantial, but BP will face further costs, as the company begins to pay out compensation.
$20 billion is the compensation that residents of the Gulf of Mexico will receive. Further to this, BP has said that it will invest more money in promoting the tourism industry there, which has suffered from the oil spill. However, what about the fishing industry? Although compensation will be paid for the losses incurred, will this continue in the long term? The oil may cause a loss in productivity in certain populations of sea-life. How will this impact us? If certain fish became scarcer, then their price will rise accordingly, whether you purchase the fish at a shop or have it as a meal in a restaurant. To make matters worse, the hurricane season has arrived in the affected areas, which will make the clean-up effort even harder.
As BP’s share price has fallen, individuals have suffered from lower dividends. Jupiter Income Trust had almost 10% of their portfolio invested in BP, which largely explains the 9 per cent drop in their payout.
BP oil well ‘poses no further risk’, says Allen BBC News (5/9/10)
BP oil spill fallout hits Jupiter dividend Mail Online, Richard Dyson (4/9/10)
Gulf Oil leak: biggest ever, but how bad? BBC News, Richard Black (3/8/10)
BP oil spill didn’t hit tourism too hard Jabber Lounge, Gloria Rand (5/9/10)
BP oil victims face strings on $20 billion oil fund Telegraph, Rowena Mason (20/8/10)
- Which industries have been affected by the oil leak? Don’t think too close to home – look at the wider picture.
- Is the oil spill an example of a negative externality? Can it be illustrated on a diagram and, if so, how?
- What has happened to BP’s share price since the beginning of the oil spill? Put this on to a graph to trace the trend. Try to explain the changes in the share price using a demand and supply diagram.
- How would BP have calculated the compensation to be paid to residents of the Gulf of Mexico? Would cost–benefit analysis have been involved?