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BP settles over Gulf rig disaster

Published 21/05/2015

An underwater video clip of the Deepwater Horizon oil leak
An underwater video clip of the Deepwater Horizon oil leak

Oil giant BP has reached settlements over the Deepwater Horizon rig disaster, resolving years of complicated litigation.

Meanwhile, businesses and individuals claiming damages from the April 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill agreed a 211 million-dollar (£136m) settlement with Transocean, the owner of the ill-fated drilling rig.

The accident killed 11 workers and sent oil spewing into the Gulf for 87 days.

Court rulings have put the brunt of the blame for the disaster on BP, which leased the platform from Transocean . But Transocean and contractor Halliburton, which did cement work on the rig before it exploded, were also found to bear responsibility.

The nearly 211.8 million-dollar settlement that Transocean reached with the Plaintiffs Steering Committee will involve two classes of businesses and individuals.

One is already part of a settlement BP reached with plaintiffs in 2012 and the other is a new "punitive damages class" that for various reasons was not included in the BP settlement, perhaps because its members opted out or were not deemed by the courts to be eligible.

Halliburton reached a similar settlement with plaintiffs, for one billion dollars (£645m), last year.

"We applaud Transocean for adding to the settlement funds established in the Halliburton settlement to help compensate people and businesses for their losses," lawyers Stephen Herman and James Roy, leaders of the Plaintiffs Steering Committee, said.

Notice of the preliminary settlement agreement with plaintiffs, which does not involve BP, has not yet been filed in federal court in New Orleans, where US district judge Carl Barbier presides over the oil spill cases.

On the other settlements, Halliburton released a brief statement saying its agreement with BP settles which business will cover various damages and includes "dismissal of all claims against each other" arising from the spill.

Transocean said its settlement included an agreement that BP would indemnify Transocean for natural resource damages, while Transocean will indemnify BP for injury claims by Transocean employees. The settlement also includes a 125 million-dollar (£80.6m) payment from BP to cover legal fees, Transocean said.

"We are pleased to have resolved with Halliburton and Transocean the final remaining disputes stemming from the Deepwater Horizon accident," BP spokesman Geoff Morrell said.

"We have now settled all matters relating to the accident with both our partners in the well and our contractors."

Halliburton and Transocean also hailed the settlements.

"We are pleased to have reached an amicable resolution with BP, our valued customer, that allows us to close another chapter in the Deepwater Horizon case for Halliburton," Dave Lesar, Halliburton's chairman and CEO, said.

Transocean called its settlement a step towards renewing its partnership with BP.

"Most importantly, while the litigation is finally coming to an end, it is important that we, as an industry, continue to remember the eleven men who lost their lives in this tragedy, and keep them and their families in our thoughts and prayers," president and CEO Jeremy Thigpen said.

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From Belfast Telegraph