BP reports annual loss after Gulf spill


-- Oil giant BP suffered an annual loss for 2010 because of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, it announced Tuesday.

It reported a loss of $4.9 billion, but that includes $40.9 billion set aside pre-tax in charges related to the spill.

It will also start paying dividends to shareholders again, it announced. They'll get 7 cents a share for the fourth quarter of 2010.

Dividends were suspended in June 2010 amid a torrent of bad publicity about the undersea gusher.

Separately, BP is in court in London Tuesday over a deal with Russia's state-controlled Rosneft to explore for oil in the Russian Arctic. BP's Russian partner TNK-BP is seeking to block the deal.

An independent report into the spill ordered by President Barack Obama found that the Gulf of Mexico "disaster was both foreseeable and avoidable. The industry failed to manage the risk of an inherently dangerous operation," one of the commissioners told CNN last month.

"More than 14 million Americans live along the Gulf of Mexico. They have paid a grievous price for this disaster. Thousands were thrown out of work. Many have lost their homes," commissioner Frances Beinecke wrote in a special piece for CNN.

"2010 will rightly be remembered for the tragic accident and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and it is clear that as a result BP is a company in transition," said chief executive Bob Dudley, who took over after the spill.

He said the company would "emerge from this episode as a company that is safer, stronger, more sustainable, more trusted and also more valuable."

The company also announced it is selling off two American refineries, Carson and Texas City, which was the site of a disaster in 2005.

Fifteen people were killed and about 170 injured in an explosion at the Teaxs City, Texas, refinery in March of that year.

BP agreed last year to pay $15 million in fines to resolve Clean Air Act violations related to two fires and a leak at the refinery, unrelated to the 2005 explosion the Environmental Protection Agency and Justice Department said in September.

It was the largest penalty ever recovered for Clean Air Act violations, the EPA said.

The sale of the two refineries is part of a plan to sell off $30 billion in assets this year, after setting out to divest itself of about $22 billion in assets in 2010.