Who's profiting from the spill?

oil_cleanup_a.gi.top.jpgNear Shell Beach, La., workers load oil booms onto a boat for placement in the Gulf. By Scott Cendrowski, reporter


FORTUNE -- It's six o'clock on a sticky Louisiana morning when Captain Peace Marvel takes the day's first BP-related call. His job: Match out-of-work captains of charter fishing boats with scientists needing a lift to the oil slick. A captain himself, Marvel, 43, is now working 18-hour days at his one-month-old company, PeaceKeeper Logistics, which he set up to win work from BP. "When we realized the scope of the spill, it was the only thing to do," he says. "All I'm handling is one little piece of the pie."

It may be one little piece, but it's an ever-growing pie. The largest oil spill in U.S. history is also one of the most expensive cleanup projects ever -- which means that money is being made as well as lost. BP (BP) has already spent more than $1 billion; that's a rate of $25 million a day. If the process continues for the next six months, the total cost could be at least $7 billion, predicts Morgan Stanley analyst Theepan Jothilingam.

So who is poised to profit? Start with a $1.7 billion-in-sales company called Seacor Holdings (CKH), based in Fort Lauderdale. After the Exxon Valdez spill and the subsequent Oil Pollution Act of 1990, government-mandated readiness plans made oil-spill response a lucrative business. Seacor has seven subsidiaries active in the gulf; its nonprofit rival, the Marine Spill Response Corp. -- funded by a group of Big Oil and shipping companies -- has 7,000 people at work. Seacor's helicopters ferry Coast Guard personnel over the marshes. Its 200-foot ships transport supplies. At subsidiary O'Brien's Response Management, consultants work with BP at command posts. "It's a 24-hour coordination," says Eric Fabrikant, 29, Seacor's vice president. Seacor won't talk about the cleanup's impact on profits, but Tim Parker, an energy analyst at T. Rowe Price, says it could be more than $10 million.

Nalco (NLC), the Illinois-based water treatment firm, has sold more than $40 million of its oil dispersant Corexit. Clean Harbors (CLH), a Massachusetts disaster-response company, expects second-quarter sales to jump 15% to 20%, or up to $70 million. Procter & Gamble (PG, Fortune 500) shipped 7,000 bottles of Dawn dish soap to clean animals, then promoted its efforts nationally. And on May 25, the SEC halted trading in ACT Clean Technologies to investigate its statements about BP's interest in its technology, which boosted the penny stock 2,000%.

At a Venice, La., marina, Lee McLean is a captain working with BP. He's earning double his usual day rate of $1,200 and grins when he says, "I want to know how long this faucet stays on." Looks like a very long time.  To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Company Price Change % Change
Facebook Inc 68.98 -0.42 -0.60%
Bank of America Corp... 15.52 0.01 0.03%
Regions Financial Co... 10.17 -0.02 -0.20%
Apple Inc 94.30 0.36 0.38%
Intel Corp 34.60 0.54 1.58%
Data as of 9:55am ET
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,127.70 75.97 0.45%
Nasdaq 4,461.29 36.59 0.83%
S&P 500 1,984.38 10.75 0.54%
Treasuries 2.48 0.01 0.24%
Data as of 10:10am ET

Sections

Jamison Door Company has been trying to expand for two years, but they say the nation's outdated, complicated immigration rules keep getting in their way. More

Workers rejoice: Economists say their companies are granting more pay raises this year. More

Jamison Door Company has been trying to expand for two years, but they say the nation's outdated, complicated immigration rules keep getting in their way. More

Millennials are three times more likely to choose cash over stocks as a long-term investment. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.