While the Gulf oil spill has devastated the region, and will have long-term consequences, BP will be able to shake off the costs of the cleanup with little more than a shrug.
The company's stock price has taken a hit, and its reputation is in tatters, but the company makes so much money that it is unlikely to suffer much in the long run.
The cost per day of the oil spill to BP so far has been $16 million. That number is dwarfed by the $66 million per day the firm made in profit in the first quarter of this year. Indeed, in 2009 BP's total profits were $14 billion. As CNN's Christine Romans notes, even if the cleanup costs were to rise to $14 billion, it would simply mean that BP went one year without make a profit, let alone losing money.
It's difficult to see what incentives there are for BP to operate in a safer and more environmentally conscious manner when the consequences for causing even such a catastrophic crisis as this one are so negligent.