The BP relief well that killed the worst U.S. oil spill may be the last it drills in the Gulf of Mexico for some time.
Robert Dudley, the American who takes over as chief executive officer from Tony Hayward on Oct. 1, risks being shut out from the region where BP is the biggest producer as he deals with legal battles over blame for the spill. The London-based company, called “reckless” by President Barack Obama, will come under greater scrutiny than rivals from regulators when drilling resumes, analysts said.
A ban on deepwater wells lasts until the end of November and congressional elections on Nov. 2 may intensify public pressure on BP after tens of thousands of job were lost in oil exploration, fishing and tourism. A bill passed by the House in July and stalled in the Senate would bar BP from new offshore leases because of its safety record.
“People are angry and elections are coming up,” said Christine Tiscareno, an equity research analyst at Standard & Poor’s in London. “There’s a good chance that the U.S. government will place some sort of sanction against BP in the Gulf — or will let them operate with certain restrictions.”
BP yesterday declared the Macondo well, which exploded on April 20, “effectively dead” after a successful pressure test of a new cement seal pumped through the relief well.
No crude or gas has leaked since BP capped Macondo from above on July 15.