BP reaches settlement over oil spill disaster | News | DW | 03.03.2012
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BP reaches settlement over oil spill disaster

BP has reached a partial deal with a committee representing the largest group of claimants suing over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010. The company still faces claims by the US government and drilling partners.

A settlement was reached late on Friday between BP and a committee representing over 100,000 fishermen and businesses who lost work after the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in the year 2010.

While the settlement will have no cap for compensation, BP estimated it would pay approximately $7.8 billion (5.9 billion euros) out of its $20 billion oil spill compensation fund.

The proposed settlement, however, “does not include claims against BP made by the United States Department of Justice or other federal agencies ... or by the states and local governments," BP said in a statement.

The settlement means the trial will be adjourned indefinitely, presiding Judge Carl Barbier said, as the current trial plan would now require "substantial changes" and parties needed time to "reassess their respective positions."

Eleven people were killed in the April 20, 2010 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico, and more than 200 million gallons of oil spewed from an undersea well in the worst offshore US oil spill to date.

It took 87 days to cap the well, some 5,000 feet (1,500 meters) below the surface. During that time beaches in five US states were blackened and the Gulf Coast's tourism and fishing industries were decimated.

In January 2011, a government probe found that the spill was caused by time-saving and money-saving decisions by rig operator Transocean and cement contractor Halliburton that created unacceptable risk.

The oil giant still faces claims by the US government, which is pursuing violations of the Clean Water Act and other laws, as well as claims from Gulf states and its drilling partners.

ccp, sb/ncy (AFP, AP, Reuters)