Skip to main content

BP reveals the cost of the 2010 Gulf oil disaster

  • Author:
  • Updated:

After BP's Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers, oil rushed out of a hole in the Gulf's floor for 87 days. That resulted in the photo above – showing the vast oil slick off the Mississippi Delta in May of 2010, about a month after the disaster began.

We now have an idea of just how much that destruction has cost BP in terms of dollars.

The petroleum company said Thursday that pre-tax, the cost of the would ring in at $61.6 billion. After tax, that shifts down to $44 billion.

Those billions of dollars include settling (or making significant progress to settle) some of the outstanding claims against the company from the spill.

The Associated Press reports BP has never revealed its total cost from the disaster before.

That includes this giant settlement from last summer, when BP agreed to pay $18.7 billion to settle all the civil claims that came after the Deepwater Horizon incident. That was the largest environmental settlement in U.S. history.

At the time, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said the money "would help repair the damage done to the Gulf economy, fisheries, wetlands and wildlife; and it would bring lasting benefits to the Gulf region for generations to come."

And about $39 million of that is actually for Minnesota and Wisconsin, because of the states' loon populations. That's because researchers have shown loons migrate to the Gulf of Mexico each year; and that many were contaminated during the disaster by the oil itself, as well as by the chemicals that were used to disperse the oil, as the Star Tribune reported.

The impact on animals and the environment

Of course, the financial cost says nothing about the impact the oil spill had on the ecosystem there.

As the National Wildlife Federation explains, a federal government study that wrapped last year found so many species and habitats were harmed, the oil spill could "best be described as an injury to the entire ecosystem of the northern Gulf of Mexico.”

Among the findings:

  • Half of the bottle-nosed dolphin population will be lost.
  • About 167,000 sea turtles were killed.
  • More than 8 billion oysters were killed, putting the creature's sustainability in the Gulf at risk.
  • Brown and white pelicans, the former of which is the state bird of Louisiana, were among the 93 bird species exposed to oil. The deaths that followed are "expected to have meaningful effects on food webs" in the region.
  • The habitats on the bottom of the Gulf floor could take decades, possibly centuries, to fully recover.

Next Up

Brave New Comedy Workshop in downtown Minneapolis.

Brave New Workshop cancels shows due to COVID-19 cases

The shows were scheduled for Friday and Saturday at the Brave New Workshop Comedy Theatre.

Austin Retterath

Body of missing U of M student found in Mississippi River

Austin Retterath was last seen alive in the morning hours of May 8.

"Love" mural seen in St. Paul.

Summer mural events to bring together community, shine light on MN artists

The 2022 Chroma Zone Mural & Art Festival will take place this weekend in St. Paul's Creative Enterprise Zone, with ensuing events happening this summer.


Gallery: Remodeled lakeside home in Prior Lake on market for $2.8M

It offers privacy at the end of a dead-end road fronting onto Lower Prior Lake.

golden valley police department

Carjacking outside ice arena in Golden Valley under investigation

Golden Valley PD confirmed it received a report of a carjacking Monday evening.


Signs that MN Legislature could move to loosen liquor laws

A provision was approved by a legislature committee on Thursday but still awaits a final decision from the House and Senate.

US Bank Stadium

U.S. Bank Stadium looking to hire 400 part-time workers

A hiring fair will be held for the positions.

Screen Shot 2022-05-20 at 8.55.56 AM

Officials looking for man last seen leaving Hudson home

David Mckay, 67, was last seen in Hudson Thursday morning.


'Hyper-contagious' BA.4, BA.5 COVID variants confirmed in MN

Omicron continues to evolve into a more transmissible virus.

covid-19, coronavirus

Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Friday, May 20

The latest data shows there are 442 people with COVID hospitalized in Minnesota.