Fin24

BP in $14bn oil spill settlement talks

2012-02-28 10:15

New York - BP and lawyers for individuals and companies claiming damages from the massive 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill are discussing a possible $14bn settlement, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.

The newspaper said the settlement, which could be announced on Tuesday, would be paid out from what remains of a $20bn compensation fund set up by the oil giant in the wake of the disaster nearly two years ago.

BP also faces environmental penalties of up to $17.6bn as well as additional criminal charges and claims brought by state and local governments.

A trial to determine how much BP and its subcontractors owe for the massive 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill was delayed a week on Sunday to allow for more time to negotiate a settlement with the plaintiffs' steering committee.

The plaintiffs' committee is charged with handling the claims of thousands of people and businesses affected by the spill, which blackened beaches in five US states and devastated the Gulf Coast's tourism and fishing industries.

Until now no exact figure had been provided for the potential settlement.

If the trial goes ahead next Monday, a federal judge will rule on whether deadly missteps constitute gross negligence and assign a price tag for the damages.

The April 20 2010 explosion aboard the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig killed 11 workers and spewed 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

It took 87 days to cap the runaway well some 1 500 metres below the surface and 80 kilometers off the coast of Louisiana.