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BP: We'll pay the bill for now

By the CNN Wire Staff
Darryl Willis, the vice president of resources for BP America, appears before U.S. senators on Wednesday.
Darryl Willis, the vice president of resources for BP America, appears before U.S. senators on Wednesday.
  • BP paying all costs for spill, executive for oil giant says
  • So far, government has been paid back $71 million, official says
  • Transocean CEO: Company only responsible for costs associated if diesel was spilled
  • BP will have to work out with partners later sharing the price of the cleanup, exec says

(CNN) -- BP will continue to pay the costs for the oil spill cleanup and will work out with its drilling partners later who is liable for the costs, a executive for the oil giant told a Senate subcommittee Wednesday.

"BP is paying all the bills right now," Darryl Willis, the vice president of resources for BP America, told the senators.

"We are focused on making sure that the costs associated with this cleanup and spill in the Gulf of Mexico are paid and that the people who have been hurt along the Gulf Coast are compensated for their losses, and any federal costs that are associated with the cleanup are paid back to the American people."

The government bills the companies responsible for the disaster on one invoice, said Craig Bennett, director of the National Pollution Fund. It doesn't matter if one or all companies pay the bill.

However, the chief executive officer of rig owner Transocean, Steve Newman, said his company is a BP subcontractor and is only liable for any diesel fluid that has been spilled. None has been found in the waters, he said.

To date, the Coast Guard has billed BP and four other companies $71 million and another charge of $50 million is imminent, said Sen. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, the chairman of the Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management.

Video: Obama: BP will meet obligations

The bill was sent to BP as well as Transocean, Anadarko, Moex Offshore and QBE Underwriting.

"They're all responsible parties, but ultimately how much each of them might be liable for will be determined as a result of the investigations and how it all settles out," Bennett said. "They might not all be equal responsible for all the damages, and it's too early to know what that might be."

In the meantime, BP will pay, Willis said. "Our focus has not been at this point on working through any issues with partners, but making sure that we as BP do the right thing. Our view is that there'll be plenty of time to sort that out [later]."

BP also has paid more than $90 million in individual claims and $16 million in business claims, he said.

Willis said it was too early to say specifically how the $20 billion escrow fund to be created by BP will work. The details will be worked out in the next few weeks, he told the committee.

The total governmental cost for the cleanup is $217 million so far, Bennett said.

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