The Next Big Question Mark for BP

BP can survive financially, but "operationally is the big question mark,” Kenneth Hersh, the CEO of NGP Energy Capital Management, told CNBC today.

Companies this size live off of their relationship with host governments and other people who partner with them—in BP's case Anadarko Petroleum and Mitsui of Japan.

The business is about "risk-sharing," he said. So with such a huge accident in the Gulf of Mexico, what strategically can BP do?

BP can "shrink and recover," if the relief wells work and they put enough of a "ring fence around their liabilities," Hersh said. The company has $25 billion of net debt and plus-or-minus $40 billion of annual cash flow.

For that reason, the company should be able to survive on "$50 to $100 billion on liability," quickly adding, "those are extreme numbers," Hersh concluded.

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