BP could still face US trial despite Gulf deal

 
Marion Dakers
BP is still set to face the US government in court over the Gulf of Mexico spill, despite its $7.8bn (£6.5bn) settlement with victims over the weekend.

Though the deal with more than 100,000 victims was largely welcomed by those affected and by analysts, the US Department of Justice and five American states are pursuing the oil major and its partners in civil, and possibly criminal, cases.

BP did not admit liability under the agreement, struck late on Friday.

“The United States will continue to work closely with all five Gulf states to ensure that any resolution of the federal law enforcement and damage claims, including natural resources damages, arising out of this unprecedented environmental disaster is just, fair and restores the Gulf for the benefit of the people of the Gulf states,” said a spokesperson.

BP has made provisions for fines worth $3.5bn under the Clean Water Act and other laws, though the maximum fines could as much as $20bn if gross negligence is proven – something the firm strongly disputes.

The firm is also at odds with rig partners Halliburton and Transocean over their share of the costs.

Lawyers from all sides will meet with judge Carl Barbier, who is overseeing claims linked to the disaster, to set a new date for the civil hearing.

Analysts nevertheless applauded the deal. “This major step forward should allow for worst-case claims scenarios for BP to be discounted, and for a potentially arduous and lengthy trial process to become a more efficient and focused event once initiated, if not avoided completely,” said Santander analyst Jason Kenney.

BP PLANS TO SETTLE WITH GULF PLAINTIFFS
Deal worth $7.8bn which includes...

$105m to improve healthcare in the Gulf

$2.3bn to help the Gulf seafood industry

PROPOSED SETTLEMENT WITH MORE THAN 100,000 PLAINTIFFS, BUT NOT THE US GOVERNMENT

PLAINTIFF STEERING COMMITTEE HAS 45 DAYS TO AGREE TO THE DEAL

Share price before this proposal was 496.5p or 23 per cent below pre-spill level