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How the oil spill escrow fund would work

According to BP, the $20 billion account for paying Gulf claims will be fully funded by the end of 2013.

The company will put in $5 billion by the end of this year -- an initial payment of $3 billion by the end of September and another $2 billion by the end of the year. For the next three years, it will pay in $5 billion a year, in quarterly amounts of $1.25 billion.

And here's an interesting point: BP says the fund will be used to pay claims submitted directly as well as damages awarded by courts as the result of lawsuits against BP.

"The fund will be available to satisfy legitimate claims, including natural resource damages and state and local response costs," the company says in a release. A White House statement says, "The facility is designed for claims of individuals and businesses who have been harmed by the oil spill."

The White House also says anyone who files a claim and is not satisfied with the response can still sue BP in court.