Saturday, March 3, 2012

BP Reaches $7.8 Billion Settlement Over Oil Spill

Oil giant BP has reached a $7.8 billion (5.9 billion euro) deal to settle thousands of claims from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, but some of the victims said Saturday that the money won’t bring the disaster to a close.

The settlement announced late Friday does not affect what is anticipated to be tens of billions of dollars in fines and claims from the US government, coastal states and local governments impacted by the spill.

Nor does it resolve suits filed by shareholders or others seeking compensation because of a drilling moratorium imposed after the worst environmental disaster in US history.

But it does resolve a big piece of a very complicated legal battle.

“The proposed settlement represents significant progress toward resolving issues from the Deepwater Horizon accident and contributing further to economic and environmental restoration efforts along the Gulf Coast,” Bob Dudley, BP’s chief executive, said in a statement.

The last-minute deal means the highly anticipated trial will be delayed once again after a week-long postponement was ordered last Sunday to allow settlement talks to continue.

Judge Carl Barbier issued an order late Friday adjourning the case indefinitely “because such asettlement would likely result in a realignment of the parties in this litigation… and in order to allow the parties to reassess their respective positions.”

The case will likely still go to court even if a deal is reached with the federal government.

That’s because the British energy giant is hoping to shift some of the cost to its subcontractors, a complex legal question that will likely end up taking years and multiple appeals to resolve.