BP oil spill may `hit UK ties with US`

British Petroleum is the biggest supplier of oil and gas to the US military.

London: The British government is concerned that criticism towards energy company BP for its failure to curb the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico may hamper the country`s relationship with the US.

The scale and ferocity of the US attacks are said to have disturbed David Cameron, The Telegraph reported quoting government sources.

With American midterm elections only five months away, Whitehall officials are understood to be concerned that the issue is becoming a political football in the US.

Some American politicians have suggested that BP should be barred from future government contracts. The move would be likely to benefit US rivals such as ExxonMobil and Chevron.

The disaster has come up in discussions between William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, and his US counterpart, Hillary Clinton, the daily said.

However, Downing Street has declined to comment on whether the issue has been raised between Cameron and US President Barack Obama.

Business Secretary Vince Cable warned that the crisis was having "major indirect effects" on the British economy.

BP is the biggest supplier of oil and gas to the US military with contracts worth USD 2 billion (GBP 1.4 billion) a year.

The company is loosing its support from other oil firms as the industry faces the prospect of a halt to the expansion of offshore drilling. Tony Hayward, BP`s chief executive, was called "the most hated and clueless man in America" by the New York Daily News.

Referring to the attacks against him, Hayward said: "I think it is understandable when something of this scale occurs... that people are frustrated and emotional".