How Long Will BP Ban Last?

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Since the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, BP (NYSE:BP) has tried to repair its tarnished reputation by refocusing its business and strengthening its balance sheet.

To show regulators that the company is committed to better business practices and to prepare for further litigation, BP is attempting to divest $38 billion in assets before the end of 2013. In a statement released to announce the oil producer’s sale of a $1.1 billion stake in its North Sea fields to Abu Dhabi National Energy, Chief Executive Officer Bob Dudley said that the “transaction is in line with BP’s strategy to focus on a smaller number of higher-value assets with long-term growth potential,” highlighting the company’s plans to simplify its global operations while still involved in litigation. With this sale, BP has disposed of $37 billion worth of assets to date.

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As of yet, BP has not convinced the U.S. government of its responsibility. The Environmental Protection Agency announced Wednesday morning that it had temporarily suspended BP from signing new contracts with the federal government because “BP’s lack of business integrity as demonstrated by the company’s conduct with regard to the Deepwater Horizon blowout, explosion, oil spill, and response.” The suspension will be in effect “until the company can provide sufficient evidence to E.P.A. demonstrating that it meets federal business standards.”

But in a press release issued by the company, BP claimed that it has “made significant enhancements since the accident,” citing its internal investigation, key leadership changes, and voluntary adoption of deepwater drilling standards in the Gulf of Mexico that exceed current regulatory requirements.

More importantly, the press release implied that the BP’s ban would not last long. “The EPA has informed BP that it is preparing a proposed administrative agreement that, if agreed upon, would effectively resolve and lift this temporary suspension,” the company stated. “The EPA notified BP that such a draft agreement would be available soon.”

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