Fresh lawsuit a year after BP Gulf spill

Marion Dakers
THE ONE year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon disaster was yesterday marked by a minute’s silence and a fresh round of legal action against oil major BP.

BP’s 80,000 employees held a minute’s silence at 10am yesterday to commemorate the 11 workers who died in the blast last April, which spewed an estimated 5m barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

Halliburton, a US contractor working on the deepwater rig, has filed a lawsuit against BP Exploration & Production claiming breach of contract, according to court documents filed in Harris County, Texas.

Halliburton claims that its contract with BP exempted it from certain liabilities linked to any accident, yet it has been hit by numerous lawsuits from those affected by the worst offshore oil spill in US history.

It is still too early to know the long-term damage to the Gulf’s ecosystem, but politicians in Louisiana, which bore the brunt of the damage, were yesterday keen to stress that the region remains open for business.

“The bottom line is there is a lot of work that needs to be done, but the vast majority of our waters are clean, open and ready for our fishermen,” said Louisiana’s Republican governor Bobby Jindal at a ceremony to mark the event’s anniversary.

“We’re inviting America to come down here, have a great time, enjoy our seafood and be part of the greatest rebirth you will ever see.”

BP has paid out about $5bn (£3bn) in claims for economic losses through a spill fund administered by Kenneth Feinberg. The spill wiped about $70bn from BP’s market value and spelled the end for chief executive Tony Hayward.

“At BP we regret that the accident happened and the impact it has had on the environment of the Gulf Coast and the people living there,” Bob Dudley, who took over as chief executive in October, wrote yesterday.