President remarks on meeting with BP

The following is a statement from the President about today's meeting with BP:

I just concluded a constructive meeting with BP's chairman, Carl-Henric Svanberg. I raised two issues at the meeting. First was the containment of the oil that is still spewing into the Gulf. My administration has directed BP to mobilize additional equipment and technology.  In the coming days and weeks, these efforts should capture up to 90% of the oil leaking out of the well.

That is still not good enough.  We will continue to press BP and draw on our best minds and resources to capture the rest of the oil until the company finishes drilling a relief well later in the summer that is expected to stop the leak completely.

I also raised the issue of claims. As I've traveled across the Gulf Coast, I've heard growing frustration over the pace at which claims have been paid. I've also heard concerns about whether BP will make resources available to cover legitimate claims resulting from this disaster.

So, this discussion today was essential. Currently, under federal law, there is a $75 million cap on how much oil companies could under certain circumstances be required to pay for economic damages resulting from spills such as this.

That amount would clearly be insufficient. That is why I am pleased to announce that BP has agreed to set aside $20 billion to pay claims for damages resulting from this spill. This $20 billion amount will provide substantial assurance that the claims people and businesses have will be honored. And it is not a cap. The people of the Gulf have my commitment that BP will meet its obligations to them.

BP has publicly pledged to make good on the claims it owes to people in the Gulf.  And so, the agreement we reached will set up the financial and legal framework in which to do it.

Another important element is that this $20 billion will not be controlled by either BP or by the government. It will be put in an escrow account, administered by an impartial, independent third party.

If you or your business has suffered an economic loss as a result of this spill, you will be eligible to file a claim for part of this $20 billion. This fund will not supersede individuals' or states' rights to present claims in court. BP will also continue to be liable for the environmental disaster it caused, and we will continue to work to make sure they address it. Additionally, BP voluntarily agreed to establish a $100 million fund to compensate unemployed oil rig workers affected by the closure of other deep water rigs.

We have mutually agreed that Ken Feinberg will run the independent claims process we are putting in place, and there will be a three-person panel to adjudicate claims that are turned down. Every effort will be made to expedite claims. Ken has long experience in such matters, including running the fund that compensated victims of 9/11. And I am confident he will ensure that claims are administered as quickly, fairly, and transparently as possible.

BP's liabilities for this spill are significant. They acknowledge that fact. And we will continue to hold BP and all other responsible parties accountable. I'm absolutely confident BP will be able to meet its obligations to the Gulf Coast and to the American people. BP is a strong and viable company and it is in all our interests that it remains so. This is about accountability.  At the end of the day, that's what every American wants and expects.

The structure we are establishing today is an important step toward making the people of the Gulf Coast whole again, but it will not turn things around overnight. And I want all Americans to know that I will continue to fight each and every day until the oil is contained, until businesses recover, and until the Gulf Coast bounces back from this tragedy – as I know it will. Thank you.