Raising Eyebrows: BP Sheds More U.S. Assets


Most lawyers, or even anyone who watches a lot of People’s Court, know that assets can become very important when somebody’s being sued. Many of us know folks during a divorce, for example, who might not exactly be forthcoming about the true value of their assets.

So it’s a bit unsettling that BP continues to sell off large assets associated with its United States holdings. In the early days of the spill, when the threat of a bankrupt BP seemed very real, those assets limited the company’s ability to play hardball.

This week, the Associated Press reports that BP is selling its Southern California gasoline business “as part of a major restructuring” in the post-spill world. The AP describes the deal as selling “…the huge Carson refinery south of downtown Los Angeles and its local Arco gasoline operations.”

The L.A. Times is also reporting that BP “…would sell its Texas City, Texas, refinery, where a 2005 explosion and fire killed 15 people and injured more than 170 others.”

BP reportedly expects to get at least $4.4 billion for the deals. Along with the company’s expansions in Australia and that controversial Russian deal, a cynic might wonder if the company is not effectively transferring its assets well away from the reach of American courts, bankruptcy or otherwise.

That move, coupled with layers of separate operating companies and who knows how many layers of legal procedure, might be for fundraising purposes – or perhaps something much more strategic.

Read about the latest deal here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/02/02/2047967/bp-selling-its-southern-calif.html#ixzz1CvacmAAc

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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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