By Vicki Needham - 05/17/10 05:23 PM EDT
British Petroleum announced Monday it intends to pay economic damages beyond the current liability cap.
Claims are expected to exceed the $75 million liability cap for damages, and BP chief executive Tony Hayward confirmed Monday "we are prepared to pay above $75 million on these claims, and we will not seek reimbursement from the U.S. government or the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund," he said in a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
"We will expeditiously, responsibly and fairly pay those claims described by Congress in the OPA statute," Hayward wrote in the letter.
Hayward was responding to a letter from Salazar and Napolitano sent last week asking him to clarify his intentions.
A tweet this morning by BP said the "$75 million is applicable."
The White House and Democratic and Republican lawmakers have pushed to increase the cap from $75 million to upwards of $10 billion and ensure BP pays all costs for the clean up, containment and economic damages to coastal businesses.
So far, 15,000 claims have been submitted and 2,600 have already been paid, BP said Monday in a statement on its website.
"Where individuals and businesses substantiate claims for damages or loss, we will honor them," Hayward said in the letter.
Oil industry interests, including the American Petroleum Institute, have argued $17 billion would be too high a figure and would make it difficult for smaller oil companies to get insurance.