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BP stock crashes; oil giant trading below book value

It was a bad day for most stocks today, but it was a bloodbath for embattled oil giant BP.

Shares of BP dived 16 percent today, driving the stock price to below $30 per share, the worst drop on record for the company. The British energy giant closed at $29.20 per share. More ominously, investors and traders rushed to dump their BP shares: Trading of the stock occurred at four times normal volume today.

As a result, the asset-rich company is now trading for less than its book value, which is essentially all the assets it has -- oil fields, oil rigs and so forth -- minus intangible assets and liabilities.

In English, this means that investors and traders think that the company is now actually worth less than all the hard assets it owns. That's a confidence trade.

The company has now lost a staggering half of its value since the late-April explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig and subsequent oil spill. You calculate a company's value -- called its market capitalization, or market cap -- by multiplying its stock price by the number of outstanding shares.

Today, BP is worth $91.4 billion. In mid-April, the company was worth $180 billion. Wow.

What's next? Earlier this week, BP announced it would pay its first-quarter dividend, even though there is plenty of political pressure in America for the company to suspend its dividend and use the cash to clean up the spill. BP chief executive Tony Hayward says his company has plenty of cash to do both.

There's other speculation that the company will declare bankruptcy or get taken over by another company. Both seem pretty far-fetched to me. BP is still a massively profitable company with a low price-to-earnings ratio (especially now!). It's a going concern as a company.

And even though the quickly dropping price tag makes the company a potential takeover target, you've got two problems: a) There aren't that many companies that can write a check for $91 billion and b) you wouldn't be writing a check for $91 billion. There are potentially billions of other dollars worth of uncertain liabilities associated with this oil spill -- legal settlements, fines and so forth -- you'd also be buying.

By Frank Ahrens  |  June 9, 2010; 5:10 PM ET
Categories:  Corporations , Wall Street  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Same sad story on stocks: Last hour of trading erases day's gains
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Just a buying opportunity.

I know someone who bought Union Carbide after Bhopal and did very well.

Without ethics or conscience, there's plenty of money to be made.

Posted by: smrtmx | June 9, 2010 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Surely a TYPO?

"Today, BP is worth $91.4 billion. In mid-April, the company was worth $180 million. Wow."

Posted by: failsafe | June 9, 2010 5:54 PM | Report abuse

"Today, BP is worth $91.4 billion. In mid-April, the company was worth $180 million. Wow."

Sounds like a real rocket stock! Nice typo

Posted by: magnuson | June 9, 2010 5:55 PM | Report abuse

I doubt the spill clean up will cost BP $90 billion. It'll be a huge number, but BP will cut and run long before it gets to that sort of $$.

Still suspending the dividend until the well is capped and a few billion $$ have been paid out to the various business BP has put on the ropes would be a sign of a company that isn't completely tone deaf. I'm sure even a lot of the shareholders would have preferred to take a quarter or two away from getting the dividends, in order to help BP rehab itself.

Posted by: zcezcest1 | June 9, 2010 5:59 PM | Report abuse

I was just looking at the stock earlier. The market cap has dropped from 180 billion to 90 billion. Wow.

I wonder what it will cost to clean up the mess? 20 years ago, Exxon had to pay five billion or so to clean up the Exxon Valdez mess. I guess, with inflation that might equal 20 billion today. If so, and if that's all it costs, the stock today might be a bargain. The market is discounting the worst.

I guess I'll watch it and wait. Cut the price in half again and I'll buy some. BP can help fund my travels.

Posted by: John991 | June 9, 2010 6:08 PM | Report abuse

Interesting news from Ireland where the Irish Central Bank has placed some blame for the Irish economic collapse on the fiscal policies persued by Government during the Celtic Tiger boom. More interesting still is that it appears to concede that the bust that followed was inevitable in light of the weak basis of the boom and was not a necessary product of global downturn - it would have happened anyway.


Posted by: ShandonBelle | June 9, 2010 6:09 PM | Report abuse

The recent stock price movement is, I think, reflecting real investor concern that the U.S. public, acting through the U.S. government, may drive down the business value of BP far more than the actual spill impact itself (which is bad enough) by ill-conceived policy moves and through actual malice.

I personally, would invest heavily at the current price, thinking it a fair risk, absent political factors. But the "sovereign risk" component is large, and I can't even pretend to judge it accurately.

I think it would be a constructive action if I did buy shares at this price--it does not serve very many good things for the price to continue to decline.

Posted by: PeterAStoll | June 9, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

By my calculations, by the time the relief well are in place, the enviromental fines BP will have accumulated with represent 4-16% of the company's market cap. That is, of course using the current flow rates which we now know are too low.

Determining an accurate flow rate, and just as importantly determining whether the lower fine/barrel or the max fine of $4,300/barrel applies will be the political football of the decade.

If the current rate of market cap decline and the anticipated upward increase in flow rate, it is quite possible that we will have one of the largest corporations in the world "under water", much as many homeowners find themselves today.

The U.S should consider expropriating all of BP's U.S. assets or at least requiring BP to securitize its likely debt obligations. Now!

Posted by: johnnycomelately1 | June 9, 2010 6:18 PM | Report abuse

It's so unfair for the stock-buying public to abandon BP in its hour of need. All BP was doing was try to make as much money as possible as fast as possible without concern for consequences or possible outcomes. What enormous corporate entity does NOT operate that way? I ask you, isn't that the behavior business schools encourage? That and development of a backbone of steel necessary to discharge competent help, to dress as if you were God's gift to humanity via the executive suite, and to speak as if you have everything under control.

Posted by: BlueTwo1 | June 9, 2010 6:21 PM | Report abuse

The fat lady of Petroleum at the Opera may be singing.

Posted by: BBear1 | June 9, 2010 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Prosecution and Jail for all BP and MMS Managers Responsible for the Oil Flood/Eruption and Fine BP Wrath of God Money ($100~400 Billion) as that is the Only thing that will force these Companies to stop;

* Falsifying, inspections,
* Neglecting key safety equipment,
* Failing to perform key checks and maintenance, and
* Harassing and Intimidating workers, and whistleblowers.

There is the Cost for Cleanup ($60~$100 Billion), Cost for Decades of Lost Income of USA and Gulf Coast Residents ($100 Billion) and the Cost for Criminal Negligence (Double these two Costs: $320~400 Billion).

Legendary Coach John Wooden said "Failing to Prepare is Preparing to Fail."

Here is How the USA Prepares BP, Royal Dutch Shell, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Marathon and Others Not To Fail;

* Require Current Drillers to be subject to new Insurance and Safety Regulation Requirements (& Frequent Inspections to Verify compliance and well maintained 450 Ton Blow-Out Preventers (BOP), Storage Tanks leak checks, and Pipeline Cleaning and Corrosion checks.

* Require Secondary Relief Wells,

* Require Remote Acoustic Triggers for Shut Off Valves,

* Require Drillers to be Insured for Worst case Scenario ($100 Billion ~ $500 Billion).

* Raise the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund supported by industry fees from $1 Billion to $500 Billion.

* End the Billions in Tax breaks for Oil Companies and end all fossil-fuel subsidies.

BP has Billions set aside for Stock Dividends. We need to do all possible to Block and Redirect those payments to the Gulf Coast.

If BP doesn't set aside $25~$100 Billion for Initial Reparations to the USA: Place BP's American Operations in "Temporary Receivership". This will Force them to work for the American People First ahead of shareholders. We can insure they Stop and Clean Up the “Oil Eruption/Flood”, Insure "Transparency" in How Much Oil has been Flooding the Gulf (Filmed in 3D by Cameron's Deep Sea Teams), and Stop them from giving away $10 Billion in annual Dividends as they are planning on Doing Right Now.

You Will Reap What you Sow BP, You Will Reap a Whirlwind of Retribution.

Posted by: liveride | June 9, 2010 6:21 PM | Report abuse

It's one thing to allow oneself to listen to idiots like Palin, the Pauls, or Fox "News." It's quite another to put your money in a swampland racket.

Posted by: revbookburn | June 9, 2010 6:25 PM | Report abuse

Goodbye BP.

and good riddance.

Posted by: vigor | June 9, 2010 6:28 PM | Report abuse

Oh blimey!

Limey Petrol is headed south. Hip hip!

Jolly good...

Posted by: veerle1 | June 9, 2010 6:42 PM | Report abuse

Could BP be obviously acting foolish, lying, and failing to cap the well as a way of manipulating the market to their advantage -- temporarily, until the lawsuits are filed (or not filed, based on an assumption that they can't pay)? Oh, no. They're not that smart. Are they?

Posted by: MadamDeb | June 9, 2010 6:48 PM | Report abuse

There is no doubt that before she began her public performance, she whispered in the ears of BP corporate management.
Probably before the rig sank.
That's why BP has low-balled all preditions and answers to questions, without allowing anyone in to see reality.
That's why they tried to bar press from photographing damage (the sea will sweep away the evidence, don'cha know).
The government appears to be in the dark; they are -- BP has either withheld information or outright fabricated ridiculously "happy" reports, only to have to eat their words hours later.
That's why the huge dividend awarded -- they knew how they would handle this in advance.
They had a plan, all right.
Everyone is talking today as though that dividend is just being considered on about Day 54.
Wasn't that dividend paid out within a few days of the board decision?
Isn't that $10B long gone?

Posted by: Judy-in-TX | June 9, 2010 6:55 PM | Report abuse

Corporations have but one concern, making money. It is the way that they were set up and I do not have a problem with it. When their actions cause billions and billions of dollars in damages, they need to pay for it. Investors need to take the bad along with the good. This disaster is going to last for generations and if they pay for all of the damage they have done, they will go bankrupt. That is a very very good thing. Perhaps Shell, Mobil, Exxon and the rest will take note and put safety first. If they can't do the job safely then do not do it at all. Maybe gas should be $20 a gallon. That is better than destroying the planet. Buying the stock at this level may or may not be financially rewarding. My view is that it is a game for Goldman Sacks. If they lose money then they will be bailed out anyway(too big to fail). Nobody is going to bail me out so I say no thank you.

Posted by: gvelanis | June 9, 2010 7:03 PM | Report abuse

Wow. Despite all the Tea-Party, astroturf, Glenn Beck rhetoric, I guess the democrats did better than expected in the primary elections...

Someone at the hedgefunds must have looked ahead to November and had a vision of a government that you-know governs instead of just facilititating the kleptocracy.

You can almost see that's analyst's email: "Subject: Public no longer buying the BS. Party over. Sell! Sell!"

Posted by: rwolf01 | June 9, 2010 7:12 PM | Report abuse

If only that BP engineer on the failed rig knew his fateful decision to take safety shortcuts would cost his company 90 Billion dollars, a wrecked Gulf state economy, a destroyed ecosystem, tens of billions in lawsuits for decades to come, and the death of 11 men.

Posted by: logcabin1836 | June 9, 2010 7:27 PM | Report abuse

This is one of the aspects of the market which is pleasant to watch. A company makes a big blunder and it pays for it. Sweet.

Posted by: Matthew_DC | June 9, 2010 7:29 PM | Report abuse

I can't help noticing the anti-British sentiment expressed in some comments in relation to BP. While BP's headquarters are in the UK most of its employees are American. Around one half of its shareholders are American as well. It spends tens of billions of dollars in the US each year. Do you really want this company to collapse? The phrase cutting off your nose to spite your face comes to mind.

I also can't help noticing that very little mention is made of the entirely American based companies with responsibilities for this disaster - Halliburton and Transocean. Do you want to drive them to wall as well or do you want to overlook their responsibilies in the same way as happened at Bhopal with another company I can think of.

Posted by: 11OAKHAM | June 9, 2010 7:35 PM | Report abuse

Without a doubt, BP screwed up. However, Obama's surely comments aimed at the corporation are hurting innocents. First and foremost, as a far left politician, he is obviously flattering his base. He needs to remember that we're in this together. Making himself look good at the expense of so many is transparently narcissistic and shows a scary unsophisticated world view.

Posted by: logicprevails | June 9, 2010 7:59 PM | Report abuse

No doubt BP is facing some significant liabilities. I don't know if those potential liabilities are entirely manageable, as some have suggested here, or catastrophic as suggested by others.

One thing I do recognize is that BP accounts for something like 6% of the entire GNP of the UK.

A failure/bankdruptcy of BP would send a virtual economic tsunami throughout the world economy, starting in the UK, spreading throughout Europe, Asia, and most certainly eventually washing ashore in the U.S.

For those who wish to punitively punish/bankrupt BP or even suggest seizing its assets, please be very careful what you suggest, for it just might come back to haunt you in terms of an adverse effect on the entire world economy, including the value of ALL of YOUR other investments, retirement accounts, etc.

Is BP responsible for its screw-up? Seems the obvious answer to that question is without a doubt YES.

And perhaps there are individuals in that company who should pay the ultimate price in terms of criminal convictions.

But there is no Mr. or Mrs. "BP". The owners of that corporation are largely pension funds and retirement investment accounts of individuals. No one is getting super-rich on those investments, but there are many, many stakeholders that face potential destitution in the event that unnecessarily punitive measures are taken against BP.

Prosecute criminally when called for. File civil suits on behalf of those damaged. But allow that company to work through it without resorting to hyperbole and threatened actions which absolutely will penalize all of us, and I do mean all of us, in terms of the world population and economy, in the process.

Posted by: LAWPOOL | June 9, 2010 8:08 PM | Report abuse

I am really confused...BP should go under...but the Obama administration is run by Republicans and is crooked as the letter 'S'.

So should I believe in the stupidity of the American people and the Obama admistration and buy BP stock or should I go short and bet on BP's demise?

Maybe I should just sit this one out.

Posted by: question-guy | June 9, 2010 8:09 PM | Report abuse

I hope the devils are driven out of business.

Posted by: stevensp1 | June 9, 2010 8:17 PM | Report abuse

does anyone proofread these? isn't it $180 Billion, not million?

Posted by: danmatisoff | June 9, 2010 8:19 PM | Report abuse

People are still buying BP gas. As with any corporate loss, the cost is eventually passed onto the consumer. How this affects the market as a whole is the question to consider. Maybe BP will cut its loss and cap the damn thing.

Posted by: JustaGuess | June 9, 2010 8:19 PM | Report abuse

A fool who buys a stock while it is crashing deserves to be parted from his money. That goes for any stock.

Posted by: screwjob16 | June 9, 2010 8:21 PM | Report abuse

are you kidding......Betcha Warren Buffet is buying.....

And Hayward...he's awfully sure of himself uh????

I put my money of bankruptcy and/or merger (hostile)......((rolling))

Oh, more thing. BP best start paying some of those claims and paying them on time.

Did you see that Jindahl of LA is out on boats using those new vaccums??? To vacuum the oil and it's working. They only have about 5 boats with them. Now that's what I call a Governor!!!!

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | June 9, 2010 8:31 PM | Report abuse

Seriously, for the stock to crash -- on a day when nothing major was revealed -- leads me to wonder if something else didn't happen, that we don't know about...

Posted by: MadamDeb | June 9, 2010 8:34 PM | Report abuse

There's a rumor (rumour?) that Chevron's been interested in buying BP for some time now.

Posted by: MadamDeb | June 9, 2010 8:35 PM | Report abuse

"[Obama] as a far left politician..."

Obama is a far-left politician? LMAO. Obama is a Republican in all but name. With his current record he could easily be repackaged as a GOP candidate for the presidency.

America, being a totalitarian plutocracy, has no "far-left" politicians worthy of the designation. A true leftie would have nationalized the Wall St. banks which were failing, not given them a handout to continue raping the nation.

Posted by: Matthew_DC | June 9, 2010 8:43 PM | Report abuse

The idiots in Congress are going to put these guys out of business, virtually ensuring that the tax payer is stuck picking up the tab for the mess in the gulf. How the hell did we reach this level of incompetence as a society?

Posted by: marknelso | June 9, 2010 8:55 PM | Report abuse

And Goliath sneered at the little shepherd boy armed with only a small stone and a leather sling shot! And the stock holders displayed their confidence this day!

Posted by: joe100821 | June 9, 2010 8:56 PM | Report abuse

If an airplane crashes and people are killed because of some technical problem the fleet of aircraft is grounded until they find a solution.

This administration is now saying that until we find a technical solution to make sure this doesn't happen again they are putting a hold on new drilling activities.

It sounds like pretty sound policy.

The market is not reacting to Obama's request for BP to pay environmental damages (that was pretty much assumed) they are reacting to the thousands of BP employees coming out to the press with endless complaints of negligence, poor safety standards and lax oversight.

If you look at safety violations for BP vs. Chevron or Exxon its not even comparable you are talking about 1 safety violation for Exxon for every 800 for BP. BP’s refineries are time bombs waiting to blow and the Carson refinery is proving to be one of the worst violators of basic safety standards since they were allowed to self-regulate for years, not to mention the 15 who died at BP’s Texas City refinery.

I’m not sure what other people’s investment managers are telling them but mine has been pretty clear that there is going to be some significant fallout from this that with all of BP’s operations and accountability for decades of mismanagement. He thinks a closer look at BP’s assets compared to potential liabilities and BP is still overvalued.

You can blame Obama, Bush, Cheney, Democrats or Republicans but in reality BP did this to themselves and they are the only ones to blame. They had two guys maintaining their blow out preventer out of a garage that looks like the neighborhood service station so they could avoid the higher costs related to Cameron doing proper maintenance of the equipment…just to save a few thousand dollars?

Posted by: Southeasterner | June 9, 2010 8:59 PM | Report abuse

I have no axe to grind with BP. They are however responsible for all damages that this will cause. Yup, that means all the income that fishermen, hotels, restaurants, airlines, buses, trains have lost as a result of what they have done. God only knows what the long term effects of this will be on the gulf and perhaps the atlantic if the oil gets there. These effects are likely to persist for at least a generation. That is why I think that they do not have the money to pay for it. I am sure that they will do what all corporations do and that is resort to the courts to get out of paying. This is a high risk business and I would think that all of the oil companies would create a pool so that if it happens again they will be covered. Is this the end of off shore drilling? I prefer to see the end of off shore drilling than the end of the gulf of Mexico. So many have downplayed the effects of this disaster but the truth is that nobody really knows. The other truth is that we are all going to be finding out and I am willing to bet that it will be far worse than anybody imagined it to be. Can BP survive? Sure they can but only after they refuse to pay damages and ruin their reputation as a good corporate citizen. Not exactly the kind of company I want to be associated with. Money does not necessarily mean that you can sleep well at night. Want to buy the stock, go for it and throw those dice.

Posted by: gvelanis | June 9, 2010 8:59 PM | Report abuse

While you all are pointing out million vs. billion, I'm going to point out the very first thing I saw. The stock "dived"? Don't you mean that it "dove"? Bad English as well as typos. I should work for WaPo.

Posted by: fbutler1 | June 9, 2010 9:00 PM | Report abuse

I hope they completely go under. The lousy SOBs and their miserable greedy stockholders need to suffer.

Posted by: adrienne_najjar | June 9, 2010 9:02 PM | Report abuse

British Petroleum, BP fought the United States government tooth and nail over whether there should be 3 or 4 back-up systems to actuate and close the blow out preventer. BP prevailed with THE BLESSINGS OF THE BUSH - CHANEY oil advocates and it was only required to have triple redundancy. This is quite different than in Europe.

BP spent years battling federal regulators over how many layers of safeguards would be needed to prevent a deepwater well from this type of accident.

“In the Gulf of Mexico, BP has not yet found a way to cap its spewing well,
but each day we learn more about its successes over the past decade
at blocking government efforts TO TIGHTEN SAFETY STANDARDS.” – H. Meyerson

"But Big Oil needn't worry. . . . Because of the national failure to develop alternative energy sources, oil companies know they have the country over a barrel." – Milbank

Posted by: Here2day | June 9, 2010 9:04 PM | Report abuse

Gee, if Re[publicans were in charge, they would ALL still be on vacation.

Posted by: camera_eye_11 | June 9, 2010 9:12 PM | Report abuse

While you all are pointing out million vs. billion, I'm going to point out the very first thing I saw. The stock "dived"? Don't you mean that it "dove"? Bad English as well as typos. I should work for WaPo.
Posted by: fbutler1 | June 9, 2010 9:00 PM | Report abuse

Dove is a white pigeon. The past tense of dive is dived. "Dove" is commonly used but is not the correct word.

Posted by: MadamDeb | June 9, 2010 9:12 PM | Report abuse

Of course, our tax dollars will cushion the losses of the BP stockholders until the continued drilling catches them up again. This country soooo sux!

Posted by: WITCHBAND | June 9, 2010 9:13 PM | Report abuse

The stock is being dumped because BP is heading for years of litigation. The U.S. Government will probably take the lead in suing BP for the cost and liability for the cleanup

It's only fair: the US of A saved BP OIl by driving Saddam out of Kuwait in 1990. I figure they owe us big time and are repaying us by shirking responsibility for their lax safety attitude and practices.

Posted by: Anadromous2 | June 9, 2010 9:15 PM | Report abuse

It doesn't matter where BP is today - where is the bottom of this slide? Below $20 ? Below $10 ?

I'll but some shares when the price is equal to a gallon of gas.

Posted by: KHMJr | June 9, 2010 9:22 PM | Report abuse

Maybe Wayward Hayward can get a job cleaning beaches. Keep a close eye on him, though.

Posted by: dricks | June 9, 2010 9:32 PM | Report abuse

Fanf___ingtastic! Great! Right On!

Posted by: johng1 | June 9, 2010 9:44 PM | Report abuse

I don't think 16 percent is a bloodbath. 50 percent or more would be a bloodbath.

Posted by: jethro1 | June 9, 2010 9:53 PM | Report abuse

I hope they completely go under. The lousy SOBs and their miserable greedy stockholders need to suffer.

Posted by: adrienne_najjar | June 9, 2010 9:02 PM
If you own a retirement account, you could very well be one of those "miserable greedy stockholders."

Posted by: smc91 | June 9, 2010 9:59 PM | Report abuse

This will have a tremendous effect on geopolitics; in fact, it is at this very moment. The UAE, huge stockholders in BP, which along with Britain, has been heavily advocating for sanctions is stepping up the anti-Iran rhetoric. Accusations, heavily endorsed by the war-mongering Brits, are flying high concerning the three Iranian islands of the Lesser and Greater Tunbs and Abu Musa, which the UAE claims as their own.

The naivete of the American and European nations concerning the Iranian, Turkish, Brazilian, Chinese, Russian alliance is startling. China and Russia are malleable. China has heavy investments in Iran and that won't change, even if it heeds the Saudis' call for sanctions. Russian continues to support Iran's nuclear efforts. The Germans are big economic players in Iran as well.

The Gaza Flotilla was a smokescreen, well planned to prevent the beginnings of the Israel-Palestinian peace talks that were set to begin this past weekend. They also took attention off Ocalan, leader of the Kurdish Workers Party, who had said he would end negotiations with the Turkish government on May 31st. And he did. Gaza also permitted Erdogan to side with Iran, something he had fully intended to do since it is in Turkey's interest.

BP will never again get IRan Oil. The Brits are pawns here, and they do not know it. It's amusing to see how the tables have turned.

Brown Man's burden....

Posted by: farnaz_mansouri2 | June 9, 2010 9:59 PM | Report abuse

Doesn't matter what the costs are now, the courts will cut it to pennies on the dollar, just Like Exxon and Philip Morris's judgments. Remember the BIG money always wins!

Posted by: OneWhoSpeaksTruth | June 9, 2010 10:53 PM | Report abuse

Doesn't matter what the cleanup costs are now, the courts will cut it to pennies on the dollar, just Like Exxon and Philip Morris's judgments. Remember the BIG money always wins!

Posted by: OneWhoSpeaksTruth | June 9, 2010 10:53 PM | Report abuse

BP stock won't be worth the paper it's printed on by next Tuesday... The US will NATIONALIZE IT over the weekend..

They're done..

Posted by: rbaldwin2 | June 9, 2010 11:23 PM | Report abuse

Should this year's hurricane season blow crude oil as far north as the Virginia Capes (or, God forbid, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, or the pristine coastline of Maine; could Maine be the ultimate destination of those hundred-mile long, three hundred foot thick oil "plumes" reportedly 3,000 ft. below the surface until stirred to the wind-swept surface by violent turbulence?) BP's "book value" will be some function of a negative integer.

It would not surprise me if BP reneged on its commitments long before then ... .

Posted by: hogsmile | June 10, 2010 12:09 AM | Report abuse

BP owns Obama and he is once again playing the American people for fools while from one side of his mouth he talks tough and behind closed doors, BP gets a wink and a smile.

Posted by: targa47 | June 10, 2010 12:32 AM | Report abuse


Premise 1: the Department of Defense have a mercury stockpile of 4,000 metric tons.
Premise 2: if you pour mercury into the tube, the force of gravity (Newton) on the drops will be greater than the sum of the drag force upward due to the speed of oil (Stokes) and the thrust of Archimedes (mercury is a liquid having a specific gravity of 13.6), the drops will fall to the bottom of the pipe.
Premise 3: a column of mercury high enough into the hole balance the reservoir pressure (8000 psi) and avoid loss.
Premise 4: a column of mercury of 150 feet high mean 136 tons of mercury and 8700 psi.
Premise 5: EPA agrees.
Conclusion : the Departament of Defense has the means to stop this.

Pablo Schickendantz, EME, UBA, Argentina
Technological Innovation Trophy 2004 SUEZ Environnement

Posted by: schcknd | June 10, 2010 1:13 AM | Report abuse

@targa47 - Welcome to the Washington Post, you slime-sucking-shill! Witness what the astroturf army will do to redirect blame from Halliburton (That Cheney was on the board of), and Bush, whose oil ties run deep. You are as lily-livered as the punks you represent. Those of you that blame our government now for a disaster that was years in the making are either paid, stupid, or blinder than the pelicans that are currently floundering in your mess. Seriously, bring it, because you have no leg to stand on, and your little shill Oakleys won't protect you from the light of the truth. Go back in your cave, little paid sock-puppets, because next time I'll really call you out.

Posted by: awshux | June 10, 2010 1:19 AM | Report abuse

Yes, I hear Satan's stock often crashes after he destroys the lives of innocent creatures, but it always bounces back. That's because Satan's CEO pays dividends in a timely manner, keeping his investors (e.g. Faust) happy and well-fed. He can even make ridiculous comments like "I can do both" (pay dividends and clean up) while neglecting much of what needs cleaning up. This is all possible because of his ability to get taxpayer-funded police forces to keep the results of his destruction from public view, so it's harder to document how far short he is of cleaning up (i.e., instead of cleaning oiled wildlife, they are whisked away to a secret location--Guantanamo perhaps?) After all, the government now works for him, not for American citizens.

Posted by: Student_Of_Irony | June 10, 2010 1:34 AM | Report abuse

I'm going to tell you this once and only once:


Buy, Buy, Buy, Buy, Buy, Buy!

(if you wanna make some money, anyway...)

Posted by: YouCanBelieveIt | June 10, 2010 1:59 AM | Report abuse

BP going under water! Then be prepared for the deficit to increase and recession to last longer, due to the budgeted revenue loss from Gasoline tax which is one of the easy and largest tax collected by the government. Then their are pension funds invested in BP due to the banking crises there is little or no interest paid by the banks. Then think of the world already pointing the fingers comparing Bhopal, the worlds worst disaster compared to only American worst BP. Americans have already lost the faith in Muslim world and Indians are just about furious. Where is the justice, freedom and the liberty loudly spoken but not acted upon. Asking BP to pay workers may be ok but they also have a fast hire and fire contract, they have the best lawyers who might say circumstances beyond our control. The case is (JD) justice department against BP. JD has already ruled that the site contractors are responsible (not the BP or)Union Corbide who are hiding behind Dow chemicals. But looks like here big money is involved that can swing the law. Moreover BP has promised to do utmost, they have not run away like Union Carbide, they have money to do the repairs if government let them get on with it rather than diverting their attention through the committees. We are not talking here to put Warren Anderson in jail but make Dow Chemicals to cleanup the contaminated Bhopal site at least. A small gesture.

Posted by: Parkav | June 10, 2010 2:19 AM | Report abuse

No one ever thought Bear Sterns could go bankrupt. It was also worth 100's of billions of dollars, but the more their problems were in the news the more their creditors and clients demanded their money back. The downward spiral was too sudden and too vicious for the company to survive. While the actual clean up of this spill may only cost a few billion dollars, the liability from the damage caused by the spill are unlimited. So while at first glance a BP bankruptcy may seem very unlikely, the bankruptcy of Bear Sterns was even more unlikely. Its starting to feel like Deja vu all over again.

Posted by: threeof3 | June 10, 2010 3:29 AM | Report abuse

Has anyone noticed that BP only owns 65 per cent of the well. I hope you will take the same action against the owners of the remaining 35 per cent. Oh yes they are American companies - Halliburton and Transocean. Why is so little said about their responsibilities? I wonder.

Posted by: 11OAKHAM | June 10, 2010 4:17 AM | Report abuse

This bashing of BP has got to stop.

The brits didn't bash Occidental, a US company that killed 167 people in the English North Sea when their rig exploded.
BP are doing their utmost to stop the leak, despite not owning or operating the rig that caused the explosion, and despite only being responsible for 65% of the well.

Posted by: IAN35772 | June 10, 2010 4:24 AM | Report abuse

The British press says today : It is time our American friends were reminded that they sang a different tune when the American company Union Carbide killed many thousands of Indians at Bhopal and never paid out. Not to mention when the American company Occidental killed 167 people on a North Sea oil rig in UK waters in 1988.

They also need reminding that BP only owns 65 per cent of the oil well. The other 35 per cent is owned by American companies - Halliburton and Transocean. BP is donating its 65 per cent of proceeds from recovering oil from the well to reinstating the wildlife habitat in the Gulf while the American companies involved are using their share of the proceeds to fatten their profit margins.

Posted by: 11OAKHAM | June 10, 2010 6:54 AM | Report abuse

Dirge for the age:
DUMP BOILING OIL down haywards gullet and sew his mouth shut!
DUMP BOILING OIL on 'adolf' svanberg and suttles too!
DUMP OIL on all BP workers!
DUMP OIL on all lobbyists and regulators!
JAIL all regulators for life
JAIL all BP workers for life
STRIP all BP workers of their assets and use them for the clean up
DISMANTLE BP as a warning to other 'oilistas'
FIRE salazar
FIRE chu
REMOVE obama from the B(ack) P(ocket)
REMOVE obama from the B(ack) P(ocket)
SOS! Save Other Species!!!! Stop the human greed!!!
SOS! Save Other Species!!!! Stop the human greed!!!
SOS! Save Other Species!!!! Stop the human greed!!!
SOS! Save Other Species!!!! Stop the human greed!!!

Posted by: adelaney2 | June 10, 2010 7:01 AM | Report abuse

I am not a greedy stockholder. My dad worked for Amoco Oil for almost 30 years. When he passed I inherited the shares he EARNED. They became BP shares when Amoco was taken over. I have had these shares almost 25 years. People need to think at least a little before blabbing off. Should BP clean up this disaster? Of course. But what about the American employees of BP?

Posted by: debster01 | June 10, 2010 8:52 AM | Report abuse

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