BP challenges Halliburton court request on spill

Tue Jan 3, 2012 10:39am EST
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By Tom Bergin and Greg Roumeliotis

LONDON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - BP (BP.L: Quote) has opened 2012 with a new legal move in its battle to force contractor Halliburton HAL.C to help pay the costs and expenses it incurred to clean up the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, which the oil major previously put at around $42 billion.

Halliburton HAL.C, the company that cemented the doomed well, had asked a court to force BP to recognize a contractual agreement that protected Halliburton against possible spill clean-up costs.

In response, BP asked a court in a filing on Monday not to give a summary judgment on that request -- one that would hand down a ruling without a full trial being held and could let Halliburton off the hook for a share of the total spill costs.

BP restated a claim against Halliburton, first made in an April 2011 filing, that Halliburton should pay it damages "equal to, or in the alternative proportional to Halliburton's fault," to cover clean up costs and government fines BP might faces.

Halliburton officials were not immediately available for comment. BP declined comment.

BP shares traded up 2.2 percent at 1520 GMT, ahead of a 1.5 percent rise in the STOXX Europe 600 Oil and Gas index .

Its filing comes ahead of hearings on a collection of lawsuits, which are set to begin in New Orleans on February 27.

The 'multi-district litigation' is expected to decide who will compensate those hurt by the spill, the extent of government fines and who will be remembered as the negligent party.   Continued...

<p>A BP petrol station sign is seen at dawn in west London October 25, 2011. REUTERS/Toby Melville</p>