BP set to spill more cash on civil trial for Deepwater Horizon

If you thought that BP had managed to plug the leak (from its bank account), think again. The civil trial is about to begin, and could cost the firm the best part of $18bn.

by Michael Northcott
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013

There are yet more parties baying for blood where oil giant BP is concerned today, as the federal government’s civil trial is just about to begin. It is expected to mean further multi-billion dollar payouts by the firm for the environmental damage caused to coastlines during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. 

The trial which is to be held in New Orleans, will try to work out what caused the spill, placing blame with BP, rig contractor Halliburton and rig operator Transocean. Garret Graves, the chairman of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority in Louisiana (one of the states affected by the spill), said: ‘BP can hire all the smiling faces they can find for their commercials, but in court it’s a game-changer.

‘First of all, they will have to start telling the truth. Second, let’s just say that’s not going to go over so well for BP. Even BP’s money can’t buy revisionist history.’

The start of the civil trial comes less than a month after the conclusion of the corporate trial, in which BP was finally allowed to settle for $4bn on manslaughter charges. 

It’s no surprise that authorities are still trying to get their pound of flesh out of the BP disaster. Back in 2010, over the course of 87 days a deep-sea well gushed millions of barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico, toxifying thousands of miles of coastline and causing unprecedented damage to marine life and ecosystems. 

BP has already had to sell off billions of dollars worth of assets to find the fines, compensation costs and other levies associated with the disaster, and it has now slipped to fourth place amongst the major oil companies. 

The firm has said however that it expects any fines which come as result of the civil action to be much more manageable than the giant sums it has already doled out, which is a good job, because some in the City are now muttering that a much smaller, leaner and fitter BP could be a good takeover target...

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