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BP puts up oil fields as collateral

By Aaron Smith, CNNMoney.com staff writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- BP has put up seven of its Gulf of Mexico oil fields as collateral for the $20 billion escrow fund that it's building to pay oil spill claimants, the company said Friday.

"The pledging of these assets underscores our commitments to the trust which we set up to pay all legitimate claims arising from the tragedy," said Lamar McKay, chairman of BP America Inc. and the company's Gulf Coast Restoration Organization.

The oil and gas-producing fields being up for collateral are called Thunder Horse, Atlantis, Mad Dog, Great White, Mars, Ursa and Na Kika, according to BP.

BP spokesman David Nicholas said the revenue flow from these assets will be used as a guarantee to make sure the company is putting enough money into its escrow fund. So far, the company has put $3 billion into the fund and plans to deposit another $2 billion in fourth quarter of 2010, adding another $1.25 billion for every additional quarter through the end of 2013.

Thus far, the company has paid about $1.2 billion to claimants, said Nicholas. Claimants are mainly business owners in the Gulf region -- such as fisherman and real estate brokers - who have lost money from BP's massive oil spill, resulting from the April 20 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig off Louisiana that killed 11 workers.

"We continue to believe that the $20 billion escrow fund is likely to be adequate for the claims," said Nicholas, speaking from the London office of the British company.

Bob Dudley, who officially became chief executive Friday, told analysts in September that the company might not have to pay all of the $20 billion in claims.

So far, the company has spent $11.2 billion on total costs related to the spill, including clean-up and claims.

BP confirmed on Sept. 19 that the leaking well had finally been sealed.

BP's (BP) stock rose about 2% in pre-market trading. To top of page

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