US accuses BP of negligence over Gulf spill

BP is facing a multi-billion dollar lawsuit from the US government for gross negligence relating to the Macondo oil spill.

The Deepwater Horizon disaster, which happened in April 2010, caused BP’s share price to plummet to almost half its value.

In a filing to the Department of Justice (DoJ), the US government yesterday accused BP of “gross negligence and willful misconduct” surrounding the operations in the Gulf of Mexico that led to Deepwater Horizon, adding that BP’s arguments in defence were “plainly misleading”.

The British oil behemoth denied allegations of gross negligence surrounding the disaster, which killed 11 people and poured crude oil into the sea off Mexico for months.

It added in a statement yesterday: “BP believes it was not grossly negligent and looks forward to presenting evidence on this issue at trial in January.”

It is understood that the DoJ is seeking around $25bn (£15.7bn) in compensation, while BP is hovering around the $15bn mark. The trial is due to start proceedings in January.

Yesterday it was revealed that the oil giant is facing lawsuits from a raft of institutional investors, including Skandia and GAM Funds.

BP has pencilled in $38bn of divestments to cover costs relating to the oil spill.

Jonathan Jackson at Killik & Co said yesterday that for every $10bn extra in compensation, 35p will be wiped off BP’s share price.

The FTSE 100 company’s share price dropped in trading yesterday, to close 2.92 per cent down at 423.85p.