BP PLC and a committee representing plaintiffs suing over the 2010 Deep Water Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico have reached an agreement, a federal judge said late Friday night. Specific terms have not been released.
In a report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Judge Carl Barbier said the trial that was scheduled to begin Monday will be postponed for a second time, a result of the agreement that will be filed with the court for approval. Barbier said the settlement will require substantial changes to the current trial plan, he did not offer to elaborate. No new date was immediately set.
In Barbier’s order there was no mention of anything about the status of BP's talks with the federal government, involved states, individuals or plaintiffs not represented by the committee.
April 20, 2010, off the Louisiana coast in the Gulf of Mexico, the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig exploded into a ball of flames that could be seen for miles. The explosion killed 11 workers and spewed more than 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The spill contaminated sensitive tidal estuaries and beaches, killing wildlife and closed huge areas of the Gulf to the commercial fishing fleets.
After multiple attempts to cap the well failed. Engineers were finally successful; on July 15 they were able to stem the flow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico after almost 3 months.
The companies involved in the litigation are BP PLC, Transocean, Cameron International (manufactured the failed Blowout Preventer) and Halliburton. The Deep Water Horizon rig is owned by Transocean and was under lease to BP PLC the majority owner of the well.
In an effort to recover billions of dollars for economic and environmental damage the Justice Department sued some of the companies involved in the ill-fated Deep Water Horizon.
Government investigations have spread blame for the disaster.
A presidential commission in January 2011, found that the spill was caused by time-saving and money-saving decisions by BP, Halliburton and Transocean that created unacceptable risk, not necessarily the fault of any one individual.
A team of Coast Guard officials and federal regulators issued a report in September 2011, concluded BP bears ultimate responsibility for the spill. The report found that BP had violated federal regulations, ignored crucial warnings and made bad decisions during the cementing of the well.
BP said in its complaint, “The simple fact is that on April 20, 2010, every single safety system, device and well control procedure on the Deepwater Horizon failed, resulting in the casualty.”