The U.S. government says BP will be required to pay royalties for oil collected from its blown-out deepsea well.
Michael Bromwich, director of the Interior Department's regulation and enforcement office, sent the British oil giant a letter Thursday requesting oil and gas production reports and said royalty payments were required. Failing to pay royalties violates the Federal Oil and Gas Royalty Management Act, Bromwich said in a letter to Guy Otwell, of BP America Inc.'s Tax Department.
BP has tried numerous strategies to collect oil gushing from the bottom of the Gulf since the April 20 rig explosion. It's collected about 34.3 million gallons since May, and more will be pumped from the well while the company continues to work on a set of relief wells that could plug it for good.
Some of the oil and gas has been burned off, but the company also has started selling the oil. BP said in June that it planned to donate the money it makes from the oil to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
The Interior Department said those sales also would be subject to a fee of 18.75 percent of the revenue. And BP would be responsible for paying additional fees if it violated federal law.
A BP spokesman declined to comment Thursday about the letter from Bromwich.
An estimated 90 million to 179 million gallons of oil have leaked out so far. The flow stopped Thursday for the first time since April after a new cap was fastened over the broken well.