BP Made 3 Million Per Hour In 2011, While Spill Victims Continued To Suffer

18th February 2012

By Rebecca Leber

BP’s 2010 Gulf of Mexico spill is still affecting the lives of many Americans, particularly the tens of thousands that have not settled lawsuits with the company. Yet the company has bounced back from the billions it lost in the wake of the spill.

BP announced that its 2011 profit totaled $26 billion, a 114 percent jump from the year before, when the company’s “failure of supervision and accountability” caused the worst oil spill in U.S. history. As the company prepares for its upcoming trial, let’s take a look at how BP has made out after the Deepwater Horizon disaster:

  • BP earned $3 million every hour in 2011. Its fourth-quarter profits reached $7.69 billion, which is up 38 percent from 2010.
  • The company is sitting on another $14 billion in cash.
  • The company continues to scale back its production in the wake of the spill, producing 10 percent less than 2010 levels.
  • BP contributions to federal candidates totaled more than $98,000 in 2011, with more than half (65 percent) to Republican candidates.
  • BP spent $8 million lobbying Congress in 2011, down from the record $15 million the company lobbied in 2009 – one year before the oil disaster.
  • For every dollar the big five oil companies use in lobbying, they effectively receive $30 in subsidies. This could mean BP potentially gained up to $243 million in subsidies, although the exact amount for an individual company is undisclosed.
  • In the third quarter, BP’s Bob Dudley announced the company had reached a “definite turning point” of boosted profits. However, nearly two years following the Deepwater Horizon disaster, BP has still only paid $7.8 billion of the $20 billion fund they created to compensate individuals and businesses for losses incurred by the spill.
  • In order to pay the $40 billion cleanup costs and additional penalties, the company has committed to selling $38 billion worth of assets before 2014.

Despite being found “ultimately responsible” for the most devastating oil spill this nation has ever seen, BP has spent millions lobbying on bills that would speed offshore drilling and leases. This includes filing a total 24 reports on bills undermining safety regulation in the Gulf of Mexico, H.R. 1231 “Reversing President Obama’s Offshore Moratorium Act” and H.R. 1229 “Putting the Gulf of Mexico Back to Work Act.”

At the time, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar accused House Republicans of having “amnesia” about the oil spill. No doubt the total $137 billion profits in 2011 for the five big oil companies had something to do with it.

About the Author

Rebecca Leber is a research assistant for the ThinkProgress war room. She graduated from the University of Rochester and holds a B.A. in political science and English with a minor in economics. Previously, she interned at ThinkProgress and blogged for a millennial website called PolicyMic. While in college, she was managing editor of the campus newspaper and held internships with an opinion polling firm and a N.Y. Assemblymember. Rebecca is originally from New York.


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  • Dan

    the catastrophic repercussions of this did not magically “stop” just because mainstream media stopped reporting on it and buried the story. remember these are the same networks you see BP’s appallingly condescending ads being run day and night, with shills from the Gulf Coast tourism industry who sold their souls to the devil to talk it up for BP’s great job and how “everything’s fine down here now!”.

    a quick 5-10 minute online search of UNcensored and legit independent news sources will diagram the chokehold the big oil lobby has on the world and keeping alternative/free energy resources suppressed. just follow the money…

  • RonW

    Hi all. Just for the record. I am the person that is in a good part responsible for getting that well shut in. I’m retired oil field trash. Because of that disaster I think it highly unlikely we will ever see another like it. Many forget the notion that Oil field workers have family and in fact do care about the worlds ecology.

    I live on 527.00 per month. Bad choices in life on my part. Heart attack took me offline. That said BP’s profits are gross. The simple fact is America and indeed the world at large still need Oil. While we are making headway in alternatives . We are not set up yet to stop using Crude Oil for our energy needs. We still need Oil. Peak oil is real and upon us. We have two choices. One we turn our auto’s into yard planters and watch everyone starve. Or two. We drill and buy more time for more development of alternatives. That is the reality of it.

    The root cause of that disaster was what can be likened to a perfect storm scenario. Six weeks before the rig took the kick and blew up. The company man had been made aware of the fact that there was a problem with the blowout prevention equipment. He chose to gamble on maintaining well control. The world lost because of that. BP lost because of that. The company man as he is called could have opted to shut down drilling operations and replace the BOP while they still had control over the well and replaced the stack as it is called in the industry. So I can tell you this. As in any event that is safety or spill related in the Oil Field. Their is review and the Best Practices Manual is updated to reflect the changes that will prevent a similar event from happening. Stock holders don’t like losses. I think it safe to say that Blow out prevention equipment will not be re-used from well to well as it has in the past without reconditioning between every well. On land it is not quite so critical. I believe undersea that will never be left to chance again. I hope that helps some.