How BP’s Escrow Account Will Work

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As Bryan noted, one of the fruits of President Obama’s meeting with BP officials today is the announcement that the company will sink $20 billion into an escrow account that will be used to pay out costs associated with the Deepwater Horizon disaster. BP will fund the account in installments over the next three and a half years. Here are a few more details that BP provided in a statement to the press:

• BP will initially make payments of $3bn in Q3 of 2010 and $2bn in Q4 of 2010.  These will be followed by a payment of $1.25bn per quarter until a total of $20bn has been paid in.
• While the fund is building, BP’s commitments will be assured by the setting aside of U.S. assets with a value of $20bn.  The intention is that this level of assets will decline as cash contributions are made to the fund.
• The fund will be available to satisfy legitimate claims including natural resource damages and state and local response costs.  Fines and penalties will be excluded from the fund and paid separately.  Payments from the fund will be made as they are adjudicated, whether by the Independent Claims Facility (ICF) referred to below, or by a court, or as agreed by BP.
• The ICF will be administered by Ken Feinberg. The ICF will adjudicate on all Oil Pollution Act and tort claims excluding all federal and state claims.
• Any money left in the fund once all legitimate claims have been resolved and paid will revert to BP.

The fund does not represent a cap on BP liabilities, but will be available to satisfy legitimate claims.  Further and more detailed terms regarding the establishment and operation of the claims fund and the ICF will be finalized and announced as soon as possible.

The company also said it would consider reinstating dividend payments next year.