Oil giant BP remains in a strong financial position despite the market uncertainty that has followed a huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg said on Friday.
In an interview with Sky News television, Svanberg also confirmed that BP chief executive Tony Hayward would hand over the day-to-day handling of the spill to Managing Director Bob Dudley once the leak has been capped.
"The company is strong, the company has strong underlying performance -- strong cash flow, strong operations," Svanberg said.
However, he said it was impossible to know the final cost of the spill until it had been stopped and added that market nervousness had had an impact on the company.
"We don't exactly know (the cost) and how could we know at this point in time?" he said.
A senior London-based banker told Reuters on Friday that BP was seeking $7 billion in loans from banks, trying to raise more cash as it struggled to plug its gushing Gulf of Mexico well and contain the worst oil spill in U.S. history.
The oil firm, which has seen its share price slump by a quarter in June alone, has agreed to establish a $20 billion fund to handle damage claims from businesses and residents along the U.S. Gulf Coast.
"America is frustrated," Svanberg said. "The fisherman, the people living on the Gulf Coast are frustrated."
Svanberg said the company was able to cope with the size of the compensation fund and defended CEO Hayward who has faced the brunt of much of the anger directed at BP.
"He has to make sure that he only can talk about what he really knows," Svanberg said. "He is not expected to know exactly everything that has happened on that rig."
ReutersLast Mod: 18 Haziran 2010, 22:28