British minister: Lessons must be learnt from "terrible" BP spill
A British government minister acknowledged Monday that the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico would not be "fully stopped" until August and said lessons must be learned from "these terrible events", DPA reported.
"We understand and sympathise with the US government's frustration that oil continues to leak at the rate that it does," Energy Secretary Chris Huhne told parliament Monday.
However, he praised BP for its "strong public commitment to stand by its obligation, to halt the spill and to provide remedy and payment of all legitimate claims."
Despite the sharp fall in its share price, BP had the resources to "put right the damage," Huhne insisted.
Not only was the company "financially sound," but pension funds which had invested in its shares also held a very diverse portfolio of assets, said Huhne.
"Their exposure to a single company, even a company as economically significant as BP, is limited," he said.
BP is currently considering US demands to suspend quarterly dividend payments in the wake of the spillage, which the company said Monday had cost it 1.6 billion dollars so far.
Huhne said halting dividend payments was entirely for BP directors to decide. But he also pointed out that BP was "effectively an Anglo-American company," with 39 per cent of its shares owned in the US.
"We must and we will learn the lessons of these terrible events," said Huhne.