BP saves £2.6m after it turns out Gulf of Mexico spill was smaller than thought

 
Emma Haslett
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The Deepwater Horizon disaster spilled 3.2 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, just short of a million fewer barrels than thought (Source: Getty)

It's not often the UK's oil producers get good news these days, so BP must be doubly pleased with the reprieve it's been issued by a US court, which ruled yesterday that the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill was quite a lot smaller than originally thought.

A judge ruled that 3.2 million barrels of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico during the disaster, just under a million fewer than the 4.09 million estimated by the US government. That means BP's fine will be capped at $4bn (£2.6bn) less than expected, with the company's payout to those affected totalling $13.7bn.

Shares in the company rose 2.75 per cent to 403p in mid-morning trading as investors showed their relief.

The company was also told its response to the disaster, which had been heavily criticised, was "not grossly negligent", although the judge added that its conduct leading up to the explosion, which killed 11 men onboard the Deepwater Horizon rig, was - a decision which BP said it will appeal.

It's reasonably encouraging news for BP, which has been battling mounting penalties since the disaster happened in April 2010. At the end of last year, the company was still seeking to cap the amount it will have to pay out.

Yesterday's decision is good news for the company, which has been hit in recent months by the plummeting price of oil. Since June last year, shares in the company have fallen 22 per cent, from more than 520p to 400p, as the price of oil dropped 57 per cent.

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