BP settlement worth about $7.8 billion

March 3, 2012 at 11:43 AM
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NEW ORLEANS, March 3 (UPI) -- British oil giant BP said it has settled lawsuits with thousands of plaintiffs for about $7.8 billion, although there was no specific cap set.

The Washington Post reported Saturday the trial that could have lasted months was settled with an agreement over a court-administrated process that would settle medical and financial claims. At least $2.3 billion is earmarked for the seafood industry.

BP said "a substantial majority of legitimate economic loss and medical claims" involving the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico were settled with the agreement. The company says it already paid $14 billion in cleanup costs and an additional $6.1 billion in individual claims.

The oil giant said the $20 billion already set aside in an escrow account to cover damages was sufficient to cover the new settlement.

The first phase of the trial had been scheduled to begin Monday, The New York Times reported. U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier said a settlement would lead to a "realignment of the parties."

The judge still has to sign off on this week's agreement.

The oil spill began April 20, 2010, with an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling platform that killed 11 workers and set up an underwater oil leak that continued for 87 days.

Statements from plaintiffs called the settlement fair.

"The settlement is to be fully funded by BP with no cap on the amount BP will pay," the Plaintiff's Steering Committee said.

The company also agreed to provide medical support for plaintiffs for the next 21 years and to pay $105 million for medical care for communities affected by the spill.

The settlement does not cover any civil claims. Government officials are considering preparing charges under the 1990 Clean Water and Oil Pollution act.

BP is also involved in lawsuits with Transocean Ltd., the Swiss firm that owned the Deepwater Horizon rig, and Halliburton Energy Services Inc., the Houston firm that poured the concrete that lined the faulty oil well.

The total bill for the spill for BP is now at about $37 billion.

"From the beginning, BP stepped up to meet our obligations to the communities in the Gulf Coast region, and we've worked hard to deliver on that commitment for nearly two years," BP Chief Executive Bob Dudley said in a statement.

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