By RTT News,
September 04, 2014, 03:14:00 PM EDT
(RTTNews.com) - An U.S. federal judge Thursday ruled that "gross" negligence from the part of oil giant BP Plc. (BP, BP.L) led to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, the worst offshore oil spill in the U.S. history. The long-awaited ruling could increase the energy company's penalties by billions of dollars.
The latest ruling could make BP pay fines of up to $18 billion under the Clean Water Act. Under the Clean Water Act, the maximum penalty for "simply negligent" oil spill is $1,100 per barrel, however, if a company is found "grossly negligent," then the penalty surges to as much as $4,300 a barrel.
The U.S. government claims that about 4.2 million barrels were spilled into the Gulf of Mexico, however, BP claims that it only liable for 2.45 million barrels under the Clean Water Act as some of the crude oil was skimmed from the sea.
The judge also ruled that Transocean Ltd. ( RIG ) and Halliburton Co. ( HAL ), were negligent, however, they were not as responsible as BP. Judge Calr Barbier found that BP was responsible for 67 percent of the spill, Transocean, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig, was blamed for 30 percent and Halliburton. which did the cementing work on the rig, for 3 percent.
The 2010 Deepwater Horizon accident in the Gulf of Mexico had claimed 11 lives and led to the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history. The Deepwater Horizon rig that was drilling the Macondo well sank two days after the April 20, 2010 explosion and led to an oil spill of about 200 million gallons that impacted beaches and the fishing sector. The well was finally capped on July 15 that year.
On Tuesday, Halliburton had reached a $1.1 billion settlement to resolve a major chunk of the plaintiffs' class claims against the company over the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
BP is currently trading at $45.12, down $2.59 or 5.43%, on the NYSE.
HAL is currently trading at $66.85, down $0.73 or 1.08%, while RIG is trading at $37.62, down $0.43 or 1.14%, both on the NYSE.
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