BP proposes Gulf spill accord terms, trial delay

Wed Apr 18, 2012 4:16pm EDT
 
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By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) - BP Plc reached settlements to resolve billions of dollars of claims from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and asked a U.S. judge for a long delay in any trial over remaining disputes stemming from the disaster.

The London-based oil company expects under Wednesday's agreements to pay $7.8 billion to resolve economic, property and medical claims by more than 100,000 individuals and businesses.

That payout would make the accord one of the largest class-action settlements in U.S. history. There is no cap, and the ultimate payout may be higher or lower than BP projects.

"Neither side will receive everything it wants," but the settlements are "more than fair, reasonable and adequate" and could avert a decade of litigation, BP and plaintiffs' lawyers said in papers filed in New Orleans federal court.

This Friday is the two-year anniversary of the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, which killed 11 workers and triggered the largest U.S. offshore oil spill from BP's ruptured Macondo well. About 4.1 million barrels of oil were spilled and not cleaned up, the U.S. government has estimated.

"BP made a commitment to help economic and environmental restoration efforts in the Gulf Coast," Chief Executive Bob Dudley said in a statement. "This settlement provides the framework for us to continue delivering on that promise, offering those affected full and fair compensation, without waiting for the outcome of a lengthy trial process."

In a separate statement, Stephen Herman and James Roy, lawyers on the so-called Plaintiffs' Steering Committee (PSC), said the settlement holds BP "fully accountable".

Lawyers for the plaintiffs are seeking up to $600 million to cover fees and costs, including a $75 million interim award. These are separate from amounts paid to victims.   Continued...

 
Fire boat response crews battle the blazing remnants of the offshore oil rig Deepwater Horizon, off Louisiana, in this April 21, 2010 file handout image. REUTERS/U.S. Coast Guard/Files/Handout