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Cameron and Obama to discuss BP oil spill

June 12, 2010

(BBC)  David Cameron will discuss the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster with President Barack Obama later.

The prime minister has said he is “frustrated and concerned” about the environmental damage caused by the leaking well – owned by BP.

But Downing Street says the telephone conversation with the US president will be “statesmanlike and workmanlike”.

BP is under pressure from the US government to fix the leak and suspend dividends to shareholders.

The oil giant’s directors will meet on Monday to discuss a possible suspension.

Oil has been leaking into the Gulf since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on 20 April and sank off the coast of the US state of Louisiana, killing 11 workers.


As much as 40,000 barrels (1.7m gallons) of oil a day may have been gushing from a blown-out well before it was capped on 3 June.

‘Politically charged’

Mr Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne have already spoken to BP’s chairman, Carl-Henric Svanberg, about the crisis.

A Downing Street spokesman said Mr Svanberg had told Mr Cameron that BP would “continue to do all that it can to stop the oil spill, clean up the damage and meet all legitimate claims for compensation”.

Continue reading the main story

It’s in our joint interest to make sure that BP is able to go on functioning as an effective oil company

Chris Huhne Lib Dem Energy Secretary Cameron faces ‘anti-British’ row

Mr Svanberg is due to visit the White House next week.

BBC political reporter Chris Mason said the disaster was becoming increasingly “politically charged”.

President Obama’s criticisms of BP – and in particular its chief executive Tony Hayward – have been consistently blunt.

And some UK businessmen have accused the president’s team of using “anti-British” language when discussing the spill.

But Liberal Democrat Energy Secretary Chris Huhne said he expected talks between the two men to be amicable and productive.

“It’s in our joint interest to make sure that BP is able to go on functioning as an effective oil company, but first and foremost we have to deal with the environmental disaster,” he said.

Our political reporter said the challenge for Mr Cameron, who had yet to meet President Obama since becoming prime minister, was preventing any suggestions of a rift with the White House, whilst being seen to support BP – a company identified by many as British.

BP employs 10,105 people in the UK and it is estimated that about 18 million people in the UK either own BP shares or pay into a pension fund that holds BP shares.

The company’s shares finished up 7.2% on the London Stock Exchange on Friday, recovering losses suffered on Thursday.

Its share price has almost halved since the oil spill began.


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