BP reaches $9.7bil deal over Gulf of Mexico spill

NEW YORK - BP Plc has reached an estimated US$7.8 billion (S$9.7billion) deal with plaintiffs suing over the massive 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the company said on Friday, but the oil giant still faces claims by the US government, Gulf states and drilling partners.

US District Judge Carl Barbier, in an order made three days before the case had been due to go to trial, said the proposed terms of the class settlement would be submitted to court for approval.

He had already delayed the start of the trial to allow the Plaintiffs' Steering Committee, representing fisherman and businesses whose livelihoods they said were damaged by the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig and massive oil spill from the Macondo well, to negotiate.

Lawyers for the committee, Stephen Herman and James Roy, said the settlement would compensate hundreds of thousands of victims.

"It does the greatest amount of good for the greatest number of people," they said.

BP said the cost of the proposed settlement would be around $7.8 billion, including a commitment of US$2.3 billion to help resolve loss claims related to the Gulf seafood industry.

It said the proposed settlement was not an admission of liability and that BP would assign to the plaintiffs some of its claims against Transocean and Halliburton.

Other Claims Pending

Apart from BP, which owned 65 per cent of the Macondo well, the main corporate defendants are Switzerland-based Transocean Ltd, which owned the Deepwater Horizon, and Houston-based Halliburton Co, which provided cementing services for the well. They are also suing each other.

Several other companies are involved in the trial.

Eleven people were killed in the explosion on April 20, 2010, and 4.9 million barrels of oil spewed from the mile-deep well in by far the worst offshore US oil spill.

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