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Gulf oil spill: Credit rating firms lower BP's grade

June 3, 2010 | 12:45 pm

The fallout from April’s deadly Deepwater Horizon explosion continued Thursday for oil giant BP as credit rating firms Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings lowered their assessments of BP's long-term debt.

Fitch cut BP’s debt rating to AA from AA+, citing the potential for civil and criminal charges, saying “risks to both BP's business and financial profile continue to increase.” Fitch estimated that the company could spend as much as $3 billion on cleanup this year.

Moody’s lowered BP from to AA2 from AA1 and put it on review that might lead to another downgrade.
BP’s shares have fallen more than 35% since the April 20 accident, which killed 11 workers. On Thursday, BP was trading at about $39 a share, down from nearly $61 on April 20.

Anger and outrage also continued to build as images of the unchecked leak billowing crude into the Gulf every 24 hours are broadcast continually by an underwater camera. 

A protest and mock arrest of BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward has been scheduled for Friday outside the company’s Washington office. The consumer advocacy group Public Citizen is staging the event along with several other groups.

-- Ronald D. White

Reporting from Los Angeles