x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

BP faces backlash over $7bn spill case

Thousands of individuals and businesses that sued BP over damage from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill appealed a judge's approval of a $7.8 billion class-action settlement.

BP faces billions of dollars in pollution fines and costs to restore natural resources. John Moore / Getty Images / AFP
BP faces billions of dollars in pollution fines and costs to restore natural resources. John Moore / Getty Images / AFP

Thousands of individuals and businesses that sued BP over damage from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill appealed a judge's approval of a US$7.8 billion (Dh28.64bn) class-action settlement.

Brent Coon, a lawyer for plaintiffs who opted out of the settlement, said in a filing in federal court in New Orleans that he was appealing the judge's orders approving the settlement. An attached list names more than 10,000 individuals and businesses who are challenging the accord.

Mr Coon said last year his clients would not participate in the class-action settlement because there were too many technical problems with the claims process, which he called "slow, arduous and unexplainable".

BP agreed in March to pay an estimated $7.8bn to resolve most private plaintiffs' claims for economic loss, property damage and injuries. The settlement was reached days before a scheduled trial on liability for the 2010 spill.

The blowout and explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig killed 11 workers and started millions of barrels of crude leaking into the gulf. The accident prompted hundreds of lawsuits against BP; Transocean, the Swiss owner and operator of the rig; and Halliburton, which provided cementing services for the well.

BP faces additional billions of dollars in civil pollution fines and costs to restore natural resources damaged by the spill. The US district judge Carl Barbier has scheduled a non-jury trial for February 25 in New Orleans, where he will apportion civil liability among BP and the other companies involved in the disaster.

In a court filing on Friday, BP asked that criminal indictments against it and its employees not be used as evidence in the civil trial.

BP has agreed to plead guilty to 14 counts, including 11 for felony seaman's manslaughter, and pay $4bn.

* Bloomberg News