The first chapter in a saga of litigation and claims for
damages following the BP 2010 Gulf oil spill is just days away
from being finished.
In a hearing Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in
New Orleans said he is likely to preliminarily approve BP's
estimated $7.8 billion settlement with hundreds of thousands of
third party claimants, despite requests from some parties for a
delay in the settlement's approval.
The settlement provides $2.3 billion for the Gulf seafood
industry, $105 million to cover medical costs and $57 million to
fund a tourism advertising campaign for the Gulf region, reported
the Wall Street Journal.
BP and the plaintiffs steering committee reached a final
agreement on April 18, after the settlement was negotiated the
There is no cap to the settlement amount, but BP estimated
this first round will cost the company $7.8 billion.
Final approval could come by year's end, and would include
$600 million in legal fees, the WSJ reported.
The American Shrimp Processors Association on Tuesday objected
to the $2.3 billion payment for losses sustained by shrimpers and
other seafood harvesters, saying the money excludes processors,
distributors and packagers who were also affected by the
Halliburton Co., an oil field service company that helped
build the ill-fated Macondo well and is also being sued by BP,
said it did not have enough time to review the settlement package
and thus objects to its approval. The company is joined by the
state of Florida, which contends the settlement focuses too much
on the state's Panhandle rather than other parts that also face
the Gulf, the WSJ said.
If Barbier approves the settlement, the next step will be to
determine how liable BP is for its role in the oil spill. Under
the Clean Water Act, the company could face $1,100 in fines for
negligence and as much as $4,300 in fines for every barrel of oil
spilled in the Gulf if found grossly negligent.
This week, the Department of Justice levied the first charges
and made the first arrest in its investigation into the Gulf
incident, accusing a former BP engineer of obstructing
On April 20, 2010, an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil
production platform killed 11 workers and caused the platform to
sink, setting off the worst environmental disaster in U.S.
Roughly 5 million barrels of oil spilled into the Gulf.