Halliburton takes charge as it discloses Gulf settlement talks

City A.M. Reporter
HALLIBURTON is in talks to settle private claims against it in a trial to determine how blame should be shared for the 2010 Gulf of Mexico spill, the company said yesterday, as it took a $1bn (£655m) pre-tax charge for a possible deal.

The disclosure of the talks came just days after the conclusion of court proceedings for the first phase of the trial to settle claims brought by the US government and Gulf Coast states, as well as private parties affected by the worst US offshore oil spill.

BP has sought to offload as much blame as possible on to rig owner Transocean and Halliburton, which performed the cement work on the well.

Halliburton chief executive David Lesar said the company believed an “early and reasonably valued” resolution was in the best interests of shareholders, and its most recent offer included cash components payable over time as well as stock.

“Discussions are at an advanced stage but have not yet resulted in a settlement,” Lesar said, explaining what amounts to an after-tax charge of $637m that pushed the oilfield services company to a loss for the first quarter.

The charge is based on where Halliburton is in the negotiations, Lesar said. It is on top of a first-quarter 2012 charge of $191m after taxes, or $300m before taxes.

The total $1.3bn reserve estimate does not include any potential insurance recovery, Lesar said.

The company reported a loss of $13m, or 1 cent per share, compared with year-earlier earnings of $635m, or 69 cents per share. Excluding the charge and other items, it made a profit of 62 cents per share, ahead of the 57 cents that analysts expected.