March 06 - Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said today that its ratings and outlook on BP PLC (A/Stable/A-1) are unchanged following the announced provisional settlement of an estimated $7.8 billion to meet economic and medical claims arising from the Macondo well oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
We consider that continued uncertainties arising from the actions of government bodies in response to the oil spill, such as the imposition of fines on BP, remain a critical risk factor for the ratings.
However, we see this settlement as somewhat supportive for our ratings on BP and consistent with our base-case assumptions. This is because the settlement addresses some material litigation and payment uncertainties, and because we understand that the plaintiffs cannot pursue further punitive damages against BP as a condition of the settlement.
Based on current information, we estimate that committed Macondo-related payments by BP will total about $31.3 billion by year-end 2012. This total includes Gulf of Mexico Trust funding of $4.7 billion and the latest settlement, net of receipts from BP's Macondo partners. The total is lower than the $55 billion maximum that we presently see as compatible with the ratings on BP.