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BP Sparring With Partners On Well Costs

Publication Date: 
July 21, 2010
The New York Times
John Schwartz

Joseph Grundfest, a professor of law and business, is quoted in the New York Times on how partners in the Gulf of Mexico well are avoiding liability:

Newly released documents show intensified sparring over liability among the partners in the blown-out Gulf of Mexico well.

Three companies own the well: BP has a 65 percent share, the Anadarko Petroleum Corporation has 25 percent, and a subsidiary of the Mitsui Oil Exploration Corporation known as MOEX Offshore 2007 has 10 percent. Transocean was hired by BP to drill the well, but does not own a stake.

The joint operating agreement among the three companies states that their share of liability corresponds to the level of ownership. BP has billed the two smaller companies for their share of the billions of dollars it has spent so far, but the companies have declined to pay.


Prof. Joseph A. Grundfest, an expert in business law at Stanford Law School, said Anadarko and MOEX might also be making a simple calculation: that if there is a chance they could escape liability, they can afford to take a wait-and-see approach.

“There seems to be little downside to saying ‘no thank you’ to BP,” Professor Grundfest said.