BP Expected to Settle with U.S. Government

Posted in BP British Petroleum,Deepwater Horizon,Government,Gulf Coast,Maritime Accidents,Maritime Lawsuits,Transocean,World Maritime News on February 23, 2012

BP Plc, operator of the Macondo well that caused the worst oil spill disaster in the history of the United States, is expected to reach a settlement with the U.S. Government for the disaster after partner Mitsui & Co.’s MOEX Offshore 2007 L.L.C. agreed on fines.

Mitsui & Co.’s MOEX Offshore 2007 L.L.C. will pay $90 million to the United States and five states to settle pollution violations related to the 2010 Gulf oil spill. The agreement included the largest civil penalty ever recovered under the Clean Water Act, but that record is likely to be shattered if BP reaches its own settlement with the Justice Department.

While BP will probably have to accept different terms as the operator, the settlement suggests that BP would pay $585 million for violations, less than 20 percent of what the company has provisioned, said Fadel Gheit, an analyst at Oppenheimer in New York.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier also ruled that Deepwater Horizon rig owner Transocean Ltd. may be liable under the same law as an “operator” of the well. The judge, however, said he couldn’t decide before a trial scheduled to start Feb. 27 whether Transocean meets the definition of that term.

The trial is designed to identify the causes of the blowout that triggered an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon on April 20, 2010, killing eleven oil rig workers who died in the blast.

The Huffington Post writes:

The Justice Department argued that BP, minority partner Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and Transocean are each liable for per-barrel civil penalties for oil discharged from the well.

Barbier rejected Anadarko’s argument that oil discharged from Transocean’s rig, not the well.

“Pressure within the earth drove hydrocarbons up the Macondo Well, through the (blowout preventer), and finally out the riser,” the judge wrote. “Thus, the uncontrolled movement of oil began in the well. The riser and (blowout preventer), by contrast, were merely passive conduits through which oil flowed.”

Barbier also ruled that BP and Anadarko — but not Transocean — are “responsible parties” under the Oil Pollution Act for oil that flowed from beneath the surface of the water.

Maritime attorneys, Gordon, Elias & Seely, L.L.P. work with Jones Act clients all along the Gulf Coast and throughout the nation. We are the leading offshore injury law firm representing victims of the BP, Transocean Deepwater Horizon disaster, along with assisting businesses that were damaged by the impact of the Gulf oil spill.

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