BP chief: Oil spill settlement has been ‘hijacked’

BP CEO Bob Dudley says the company’s settlement agreement with victims of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill has been hijacked and turned into a caricature by the administrator overseeing the payouts.

In an 8-minute interview on CNBC Thursday evening, Dudley characterized the process as a free-for-all, with BP forced make payouts to claimants who weren’t affected by the spill.

“There’s a big, dark cloud over it and we think the wise thing is to take a time out,” Dudley told Jim Cramer, the host of CNBC’s Mad Money.

A federal judge will decide Friday whether to grant BP’s request to temporarily halt payouts on oil spill claims until an investigation into the administrator’s office is completed.

“We made an agreement that I believe has been hijacked and it is paying out absurd results … absurd payments by people not affected by this and, in so many cases, far away from the Gulf,” he said. “It’s just not right.”

The other side: Plaintiffs attorneys oppose BP’s effort to halt Gulf spill payments

Dudley brushed off a concern raised by Cramer that the company possibly wouldn’t be able to cover the mounting cost of the settlement.

“I don’t see that happening,” he said, noting that BP has set aside more than $42 billion to cover its liability in the spill.

Cramer went to bat for the British oil giant, saying the oil spill claims process has been marred by “well-documented flimflam.”

“Three years after the tragic Macondo oil spill, [BP] is still being held back by litigation,” Cramer said.  ”Consider that BP, the company, is not only doing darn well, but it’s also cheap by almost any definition you can think of.”