HOUSTON — BP is battling a Gulf of Mexico oil spill, facing more than 100 lawsuits and testifying before Congress about what caused an April 20 rig explosion and fire. But Anadarko Petroleum Corp. may be taking the bigger financial hit.
Anadarko owns a 25 percent stake in London-based BP's Macondo well, where the disaster killed 11 people and set off leaks spewing an estimated 5,000 barrels of oil a day into the sea. Anadarko, based near Houston, had no say in how the well was drilled.
"They were basically the passenger and somebody else was doing the driving, so the car crashed," said Fadel Gheit, an analyst at Oppenheimer & Co. in New York. "What we see here is that Anadarko got hurt more than the driver."
Pound for pound, Anadarko may have to pay more than BP. ING Bank estimated that costs of the spill may reach $7.8 billion.
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Anadarko may have to pay as much as 25 percent of those expenses, which would be almost $2 billion, if ING's forecast proves accurate. BP, which owns 65 percent of Macondo and is project operator, is 29 times the size of Anadarko by revenue and almost eight times as big based on reserves available for future production.
Anadarko, which bought its stake in the well last year, said last week that it has insurance coverage of about $177.5 mil-lion on Macondo and deductibles of about $15 million. BP said May 10 that it had spent $350 million on the cleanup.
Insurance may cover Anadarko for two or three months, said John Lutz, an analyst who helps oversee about $6.8 billion in assets, including 140,000 Anadarko shares, at Frost Investment Advisors in San Antonio. "Above and beyond that, they're on the hook, and I think it's safe to assume it's going to be considerably higher than that," Lutz said.
Anadarko may not be responsible for a 25 percent share of all costs if it's found that negligence by other companies caused the blast, said Lutz.