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Impact of Exxon Valdez

The Supreme Court ruled today that the punitive damages for ExxonMobil in the Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989 should be reduced from $2.5 billion to an amount decided by a lower court, not to exceed $507.5 million. Here are some factoids on the economic impact of this spill.

  • Oil Spill occurred on Friday, March 24, 1989
    • Exxon:
      • On 3/23 Exxon closed at $11.13 / share
      • By April 11, it closed at a low of $10.44, down 6.2% from the day before the spill
      • By the end of 1989, it was up 12.4%
      • Today it opened at $87.45, up 686% from the day before the spill and 738% from its low
    • Crude Oil:
      • Closed on 3/23 at $20.15 / bbl
      • Is now at ~$134 / bbl, up 565%
  • Lost Oil: Approx 10.8 million gallons or 257 thousand barrels of crude oil were lost
    • 10.8 million gallons represents ~20% of the oil on board that day
    • Valued at $5.2 million in 1989
    • Valued at $34 million today
  • Ship Damage: 1,600 tons of steel, $30 million in repairs in 1989
  • Court Rulings:
    • 1994 - Baker vs. Exxon charge Exxon with $287 million in actual damages and $5 billion in punitive damages
    • 2002 - Court of appeals reduces damages to $4 billion
    • 2006 - Damages were cut to $2.5 billion
    • Feb 2008 - Appeal to Supreme Court
    • June 25 2008 - Supreme Court rules punitive damages should be set by a lower court and should not exceed $507.5 million
    • At a 5% compound growth rate the $5B would be ~$12.6B today
    • At an 8% compound growth rate the $5B would be ~$21.6B today

Some pretty big numbers, and this doesn't include legal fees, clean up costs, lost Alaska tax revenue and so much more.

bythenumbers.cnbc.com