BP exec in Tampa: If $20B fund runs out, ‘there will be more’


The $20 billion compensation fund created by oil giant BP “is a deposit, not a cap,” a company executive told the Florida Association of Counties on Thursday.

“If it runs out, there will be more,” said Ray Dempsey, vice president of strategy and community affairs.

Kenneth Feinberg, the U.S. government’s appointed administrator of the fund, said nearly two weeks ago that the $20 billion fund may not be enough to pay all the claims resulting from the April 20 Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico.

Dempsey also said that nine Florida counties could expect to receive their first reimbursement checks by late next week.

Florida counties have spent at least $9 million to clean up and protect shorelines from the oil spill.

The state has received $50 million for booms and other equipment to protect shorelines; $8 million to inventory natural resources as a measure against future damage; $25 million to promote Florida tourism and $10 million in research grants.

Gov. Charlie Crist has asked BP for an additional $50 million in tourism funds to convince potential visitors that most of Florida’s 825 miles of world-famous beaches are still free of oil froth and tar balls. More than 80 million people visit the state each year, generating a $57 billion economic impact.

During their meeting at the Tampa Marriott Waterside July 1, Florida Association of Counties members approved a two-page statement addressing local government concerns about the spill.

“Clarity, certainty and rapid response and payments in the claims process are critical to ensuring that local taxpayer dollars are protected and that local economies are restored,” the statement says.

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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