BP leak costs soar
There's been a dramatic increase in the costs for BP of its efforts to contain the oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico from a damaged deep-sea well.
BP this morning estimated the cost to date as $450m, up from a $350m estimate published on Monday.
That implies that the daily costs are $33m, compared with daily costs of $18m just three days ago and an initial daily cost rate of $6m calculated by BP on April 30 - which was some eight days after the explosion that killed 11 rig workers and caused what is turning into a significant environmental disaster.
To put that into context, that's considerably more, on a per-day basis, than the British government spends in aggregate on the energy, environment and culture departments plus the Foreign Office - and it's only a bit less than the entire Home Office budget.
The scale of the relief effort is therefore equivalent in financial and resource terms to running quite a big chunk of the British public sector.
How on earth can that be?
Well the relief effort has involved the deployment of 13,000 personnel from BP, other businesses and US government agencies and the use of 530 boats, to skim and direct the oil.
There has also been 120 dispersant-spraying flight and 1.2m feet of boom has been floated to prevent the oil reaching the coast.
And then, of course, there's the considerable expense of the efforts 5,000 feet below sea level and using robotic devices to plumb and stop the leak - which has so far proved unsuccessful and which BP is pursuing without being able to provide any kind of guidance about when or even whether there will be a reduction in the 5,000 barrels per day gushing into the water.
Huge as these costs are, BP can afford them - they represent about 13% less on a per-day basis than BP generated in profit last year.
But they don't take account of future compensation claims and possible future fines.
So it's not completely inconceivable that the final financial bill for BP would wipe out an entire year's profit - which if you live and work on the imperilled Gulf coast you probably regard as a comparatively lenient form of financial natural justice.