British oil giant BP has agreed to put about 20 billion U.S. dollars into an escrow account for claims related to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, after top BP executives met with U.S. President Barack Obama in the White House, media reports said on Wednesday.
During the meeting with Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, Carl-Henric Svanberg, Chairman of BP, agreed to fund the escrow account.
The fund is to be administered by Kenneth Feinberg, who oversaw the 9/11 victims compensation fund, according to the New York Times. Details of the agreement is still being worked out, but the preliminary terms would allow BP several years to deposit the full amount into the fund, so it could better manage cash flow, maintain its financial viability and avoid scaring off investors, according to the report.
Also participating in the meeting were Adm. Thad Allen, National Incident Commander who is the government's face in the oil spill disaster, and a number of White House officials. On the BP side, participants included CEO Tony Hayward, Managing Director Bob Dudley, and BP America CEO Lamar McKay.
Obama is to make a statement later about the meeting. He said on Tuesday night he will ask BP, whose "recklessness" caused the disaster in the Gulf, to set aside "whatever resources are required" to compensate workers and business owners harmed by the oil spill. The fund is to be administered by an independent third party, "in order to ensure that all legitimate claims are paid out in a fair and timely manner."