Chris John: Five years after oil spill, BP still committed to Gulf

04 12, 2015 by The Advertiser

April 20 will mark five years since the Deepwater Horizon accident that tragically killed 11 workers occurred. There will be much coverage honoring their lives, and deservedly so. In addition, there is another story you likely won’t hear: how BP has stayed committed to the Gulf Coast and their efforts to make sure tomorrow’s Gulf of Mexico is better than ever.

After the accident, BP was quick to respond to the situation, setting up a $20 billion trust to deal with the claims process. Through early 2015, BP has paid $13.6 billion in claims, advances, and settlements and has spent more than $28 billion total on response, cleanup, claims, government payments and restoration. This resulted in roughly 100,000 workers devoting millions of personnel hours to clean the shoreline to the point where the Coast Guard ended the last remaining active cleanup in April of 2014.

At the same time, BP remained the largest investor in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico — a distinction they have proudly earned over the last 10 years. The business activities support more than 45,000 jobs, including 8,000 BP employees across the Gulf Coast, proving their intentions to remain one of the most viable presences in the Gulf of Mexico.

Remember the concerns over the potential impact to the tourism and seafood industry? Just last week, it was announced that Louisiana enjoyed 28.7 million visitors in 2014 — marking a 5 percent increase from 2013. These visitors spent $11.2 billion and generated $836 million for the state in tax revenue. BP’s investment of $179 million for state-led tourism campaigns was an integral part of this increase in Gulf tourism activity. Also, the seafood industry remains a point of pride as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) determined that every seafood sample tested was in compliance for safe consumption since May 2010.

The pledge doesn’t stop at merely getting back to a pre-spill environment. BP is looking toward sustaining an even more robust coast through $1.3 billion dollars spent to help assist in the Natural Resources Damage Assessment (NRDA) and a pledge to pay $500 million over the next ten years to support independent research through the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI). Further emphasis on safety includes a $4 million dollar partnership with Fletcher Technical Community College to introduce the Deepwater Center for Workforce Excellence that trains tomorrow’s offshore worker.

This only tells some of the story. But as we approach the anniversary, I ask you to remember one thing: facts should always outweigh fiction. And that fact is BP has been a committed partner in the rebirth of the Gulf of Mexico. Any claims made to the contrary are pure fiction.

— Chris John, former congressman, is president of the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil & Gas Association.