Halliburton in Gulf spill settlement talks, stock jumps

Mon Apr 22, 2013 4:56pm EDT
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By Braden Reddall and Kathy Finn

(Reuters) - Halliburton Co is in "advanced" talks to settle private claims against it in a trial to determine blame for the 2010 Gulf of Mexico spill, the oilfield services company said on Monday, as it booked a $1 billion pretax charge for a possible deal.

Disclosure of the "court-facilitated" talks in the last month, which some legal experts tracking the BP trial linked to a series of missteps with evidence presented by Halliburton lawyers in the courtroom, helped push its shares up nearly 6 percent.

The news came only days after the end of court proceedings for the first phase of the trial over claims brought by the U.S. government, Gulf Coast states, and private parties affected by the worst U.S. offshore oil spill. The second phase, due to start in September, will address exactly how much oil spilled.

While Halliburton is not the subject of direct federal government actions, BP Plc has tried to hold Halliburton and rig owner Transocean Ltd partly responsible for damages in the case.

Even with a private claims settlement, the exact scope of Halliburton's liability will be unclear until the conclusion of the multi-district litigation consolidated under Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans.

Halliburton carried out the cement work on the Macondo well, which spilled more than 4 million barrels of oil after the blowout which destroyed the Deepwater Horizon rig and killed 11 workers.

"Over the past month or so, we have participated in court facilitated settlement discussions with some of the parties included in the multi-district litigation, with a goal of resolving a substantial portion of the private claims against us in this matter," Chief Financial Officer Mark McCollum told analysts on a conference call.

The company was not immediately available to comment further.   Continued...

The company logo of Halliburton oilfield services corporate offices is seen in Houston, Texas April 6, 2012. REUTERS/Richard Carson