BP lied about size of U.S. Gulf oil spill, lawyers tell trial
By Kathy Finn
NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - In the frantic days after the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, BP lied about how much oil was leaking from its Macondo well and took too long to cap it, plaintiffs' lawyers said on Monday at the opening of the second phase of the company's trial.
A lawyer for BP told the U.S. District Court in New Orleans that the company did not misrepresent the oil flow and followed U.S. standards before and after the spill, the worst marine pollution disaster in the United States.
The British oil company is fighting to hold down fines that could hit $18 billion at the trial, which will determine damages. BP's annualized earnings, based on last quarter, are running at about $17 billion.
"BP refused to spend any time or money preparing to stop a deepwater blowout at its source," said Brian Barr, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, which include people affected by the spill, the U.S. government and Gulf states, and BP's former contractors.
"BP then made the situation worse," Barr said. "By lying about the amount of flow from the well."
The second phase of the trial, expected to last a month, is focused on how much oil spewed from the well and whether efforts to plug it were adequate.
"BP had a response plan that was fully consistent with U.S. standards for spill preparedness," said a BP lawyer, Mike Brock.
"BP did not misrepresent the flow rate in a way that caused a delay in the shut in of the well. It made reasonable decisions based on what was known at each step along the way." Continued...