More than six months after the Deepwater Horizon explosion and ensuing oil spill, many on the Gulf Coast are still waiting for payment from BP and the Gulf Coast Claims Facility run by “Oil Spill Czar” Ken Feinberg.
While Feinberg consistently reminds the public that the Gulf Coast Claims Facility has made more than 140,000 payments, many on the coast are still desperately waiting. According to the Claims Facility, around 214,000 claims filed before November 23, 2010, are still outstanding.
At the request of the Attorney General’s office, Feinberg has agreed to process all of the outstanding emergency payment claims by December 15, 2010, and payments will likely be sent soon thereafter. As many individuals and businesses have not received payment for any additional months claimed, these monies are desperately needed.
There have been some instances of major disagreements between the parties involved in administering the claims process and those affected by the oil spill. One of the most outspoken critics of the claims handling has been Alabama Attorney General, Troy King. King was infuriated when BP denied the Alabama governmental claim for lost profits due to a pending lawsuit on the matter stating:
They (BP) said they wouldn’t discuss it (the claim) because there is litigation. They are playing games in my opinion. BP is taking advantage of the fact that states are in a budget crisis and they are doing a masterful job,
While we have generally been quick to point out the blatant failures both before and after the oil spill, I feel it is only fair to point out some of the instances where resolutions appear to have gone well. One such instance is the Phoenix West II condominium complex in Orange Beach Alabama.
At the time of the oil spill, Phoenix West II, a massive 1.9 million square foot complex, was being built on Alabama’s coast. Many of the units were pre-sold to buyers from all over the country who wanted to own one of the luxury units, priced anywhere from $500,000 to $800,000 each. Unfortunately, after the spill, property values and rentals dropped like a stone.
As the project was only partially completed, work stopped while determining the physical and economic impact the oil spill would have. Many estimate that vacation rentals and business, in coastal Alabama alone, were off as much as 50% this summer and many around the state were worried that the project may be left unfinished for a long period of time.
Those fears were eased last week when a settlement agreement was reached by BP and the developers and owners of Phoenix West II. In a deal made public on November 30, 2010, BP has agreed to pay $37.2 million dollars to the developer in order to allow the construction to be completed.
While the deal will only be finalized upon approval of the unit owners and lenders and their agreement not to file suit against BP or others involved in the oil spill, many seem hopeful that this agreement will allow the project to be completed and will begin the process of attracting tourists to the area again. Governor Bob Riley, who previously said publically that completion of the project was very important to the area’s damaged economy, issued a statement saying:
Right after the oil spill, BP began exploring ways to assist the project because of its importance to the entire state and I am pleased with the outcome,
While it is doubtful that many associations have suffered the amount of damages that Phoenix West II did, it is important that everyone damaged by the oil spill is fully indemnified for their losses. If you have not reviewed the new claims process posted by the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, I urge you to take a look at Ruck DeMinico’s post, Feinberg Issues Final Protocol For Claims To BP Oil Spill Fund, for information.