After intense negotiations, BP on Thursday bowed to President Barack Obama's demand for a $20 billion fund to compensate victims of the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The humbled chairman of the giant British company apologized to the American people for the horrendous accident. BP is suspending its dividends to shareholders for the rest of this year to help pay for the costs, said chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg. Obama announced the agreement after a four-hour meeting between White House and BP officials, with the president participating for various portions. He also announced the company had agreed to set up a separate $100 million fund to compensate oil rig workers laid off as a result of his six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling. "The structure we are establishing today is an important step toward making the people of the Gulf Coast whole again, but it will not turn things around overnight," Obama said. He said the vulnerable fishermen, restaurant workers and other people of the Gulf "are uppermost in the minds of all concerned. That's who we're doing this work for." Likewise, Svanberg, speaking for a company that has been assailed from every corner for the past two months, said, "I hear comments sometimes that large oil companies are — are greedy companies or don't care, but that is not the case in BP. We care about the small people." After an initial 20-minute session at the beginning of the meeting, Obama and Svanberg met privately in the Oval Office for about 25 minutes, said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs. The president did not meet separately with Tony Hayward, BP's outspoken CEO whom the president has suggested he would fire if he could. White House energy adviser Carol Browner said the meeting began with "an apology" from Svanberg. "It was not something we asked for." She said during the long meeting "there were sticking points. We had to take breaks at times. There were times when each side wanted to just talk among themselves."
By: Geo News