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BP Will Survive: Securities Lawyer

Crisis in the Gulf
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Crisis in the Gulf

In spite of theories that BP may not survive the financial and legal after-effects of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, a securities attorney told CNBC Thursday that he believes the oil giant has the fiscal resources to do so.

“This is a company of real and substantial [assets],” said Tom Curran, an attorney with Peckar & Abramson. Curran said that BP recently funded a $360 million sand-berm project on the Gulf coast to protect the coastline.

Whatever happens to BP , said Houston defense attorney Brent Coon, the situation is of its own making.

“I think that the rig explosion and the disaster itself is unraveling the entire thing,” said Coon, who has represented victims of the BP Texas City refinery explosion five years ago, in which 15 people died. Since then, Coon has handled lawsuits related to two more deaths at the facility.

Coon said that when working on the Texas City case he and his legal team found BP had violated a number of federal statutes. After turning over their material to the Department of Justice, the federal government filed charges against BP. The company pled guilty to criminal violations and received three years probation and a $50 million fine.

“BP cut corners [in 2005 in Texas City],” said Coon. “They have a notorious history of cutting corners, and now [because of the Gulf oil spill] the whole country has to deal with it.”

“There needs to be a major change at the company, and it has never been able to come from within,” he added.

According to BP, the company has made 11,650 payments on the 26,000 claims made against it so far, in connection with the Gulf of Mexico spill and its environmental and economic consequences. The company gave no dollar amount of the payments. Eleven workers died as a result of the explosion at the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf that caused the spill.

Curran noted that if BP would be criminally indicted, the legal action would substantially inhibit the company’s ability to operate both in the United States and in some jurisdictions abroad.

US Attorney General Eric Holder has opened a criminal investigation into the Gulf disaster and civil actions have been filed against the oil behemoth.