Under intense pressure from President Barack Obama, BP agreed yesterday to set up a $20 billion fund for claims from its huge Gulf of Mexico oil spill and suspended dividend payments to its shareholders.

Obama announced the deal on the special fund after White House officials held four-hour talks with BP executives on the 58-day-old oil spill crisis. He said the money would go toward making the Gulf Coast “whole again.”

Obama, who has been criticized by some for not being tough enough on BP, demanded in yesterday’s White House meeting that it set aside money in an independently administered fund to pay for claims arising from the worst oil spill in U.S. history.


An April 20 explosion on an offshore rig owned by the British energy giant killed 11 workers and ruptured a deep-sea well. The ensuing spill has fouled 120 miles of U.S. coastline, imperiled multibillion-dollar fishing and tourism industries and killed birds, sea turtles and dolphins.

Obama stressed, however, that the fund did not put a cap on BP’s liabilities for the disaster.

“We will continue to hold BP and all other responsible parties accountable,” he said.

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