Press Release

Attorney General Márquez Outlines Legal Process for Addressing BP Corrosion and Partial Shut Down Issues to Alaska Legislature Joint Resources Committees

August 18, 2006

(Anchorage) – Today Attorney General David Márquez outlined the legal review process and action plan for addressing corrosion management issues within Prudhoe Bay before a joint hearing of the Alaska Legislature Resource Committees.

"Our message is simple. A thorough fact-finding investigation of BP's management of the North Slope oil field is taking place," said Márquez. "After the investigation is complete, appropriate legal action will be taken to protect Alaska's interests."

On August 9 Governor Frank Murkowski, at a joint address to the Alaska Legislature, announced the creation of a cabinet-level team, headed by DNR Commissioner Mike Menge, to ensure that the environment remains protected and that there is a strong corrective action plan put in place to have oil production put back into place as soon and as safe as possible.

Márquez, who serves on this team, also announced that, "I created a task force within the Department of Law to review the state's legal rights, particularly the full extent to which BP and possibly other parties can be held legally responsible for losses incurred by the state. The Department of Law will work with other state agencies, including the Departments of Natural Resources, Environmental Conservation and Revenue, to ensure that all regulatory, enforcement, and loss recovery options available have been fully explored and acted upon.

In his presentation today Márquez discussed potential legal options that, depending upon the results of the factual and legal investigation, could be available to the state. These include:

  • Potential criminal liability for criminally negligent conduct resulting in an oil spill
  • Civil penalties for the full amount of actual damages for discharging petroleum on state land. These damages would include direct and indirect costs for abatement, containment or removal of the pollutant, environmental restoration, and incidental administrative costs
  • Consequential liability to the state resulting from lost revenues, and
  • Any other damages.

As part of the ongoing investigation yesterday the Department of Law, through administrative authorities of the Department of Environmental Conservation, served subpoenas on BP and other holders of the Prudhoe Bay leases to preserve all documents related to this occurrence and pipeline corrosion. The subpoenas were accompanied by a letter to Steve Marshall, President of BP Exploration Alaska, Inc.

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