From the moment the Deepwater Horizon oil rig suffered a blowout, spilling millions of barrels of the black stuff into the Gulf of Mexico, America’s treatment of BP, driven by a vindictive and essentially anti-British Obama administration, has been a total disgrace.
I say this not because BP doesn’t deserve harsh treatment – it most certainly does – but because the punishment meted out is both grossly disproportionate and quite out of keeping with anything the US authorities would have imposed on any American corporation.
We know this because the settlement reached with Halliburton, a monstrous carbuncle of a global energy services company which, as far as I can see, was the chief mischief-maker in the Deepwater tragedy, is so much less than that imposed on BP.
Halliburton, which supplied the defective cement behind the blowout, has escaped at a cost of “just” $1.1bn.
Last week’s $18.7bn settlement with BP, the largest such fine ever imposed on a corporation, takes BP’s total Deepwater Horizon-related costs to a jaw-dropping $54bn, and even that won’t completely cap the liability.
You might argue that this is because American companies are just a whole lot better at playing the US legal system than foreign ones, and you would be right.
With the maximum allowable fine for such an offence set at a paltry $200,000, Halliburton simply destroyed the evidence. Classy.