O’Brien’s Response Management Owes Money
Companies say they are owed millions for BP work
By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN
Ricky Myers, who owns Rhino Construction in Bay St. Louis, Miss., said Tuesday that BP contractor O’Brien’s Response Management owes him $650,000 for his company’s work cleaning up beaches and barrier islands after the spill.
“It seems like the bottleneck or the buck stops at O’Brien,” Myers said.
A spokesman for O’Brien’s said he is looking into the companies’ claims and couldn’t immediately comment.
Myers said BP officials have assured him the company has fully paid O’Brien’s, but other subcontractors say BP deserves some blame.
“I figure it’s BP trying to worm out of paying,” said Matthew Creel, who owns a Carriere, Miss.-based excavation company.
BP spokeswoman Heidi Feick said the company is working with its major contractors “to provide support as necessary.”
“BP has urged its prime contractors to meet their contractual obligations to subcontractors and to timely resolve any issues as a priority,” she said.
Creel said he is owed $60,000 — about 30 percent of the work his company performed.
“It’s got me in a bad bind,” he said.
Myers said much of the money owed is “retainage,” or money that is withheld until the quality of a subcontractor’s work can be verified. Myers said the retainage money was supposed to be paid within two weeks of the work’s completion, but some companies have been waiting for months to get any of that money.
Myers said the delay threatens to drive smaller firms out of business.
“I’m really concerned about the littler guys in this deal,” he said.
“I’ve never been in a situation where you have to wait a year to get your money,” he said. “We keep being told progress is being made, but another 30 days go by and nothing happens.”
Myers said his company deployed several hundred workers and has paid them what they were owed. While other company officials weren’t ruling out a lawsuit, Myers said he is reluctant to sue.