The US government and America’s Gulf Coast states are reported to be considering offering BP a deal under which it pays £10.5billion to settle civil suits stemming from the deadly 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The deal would cover the company’s potential penalties under the Clean Water Act and payments under the Natural Resources Damage Assessment.
It was unclear if the deal has been formally offered to BP. The US Justice Department declined to comment. A settlement could avert a courtroom battle over the worst US offshore oil spill due to start today in New Orleans, although the trial may begin while the terms of the deal are still being hammered out.
A settlement would also put a solid number on BP’s costs under the Clean Water Act, which range from £2.9billion to £11.5billion, as well as potential natural resources damage assessments to states under the Oil Pollution Act.
“BP doesn’t talk about possible offers or negotiations, but we are ready for trial and looking forward to presenting our case starting Monday,” said BP spokesman Geoff Morrell.
BP has spent or committed £24.3billion on clean-up, restoration, payouts, settlements and fines. That includes an estimated £5.6billion deal with most plaintiffs and £2.9billion in penalties, and a guilty plea to 14 criminal counts to resolve criminal charges from the Justice Department and civil claims from the US Securities and Exchange Commission.
BP has said it would settle on “reasonable terms”, but would go to trial if the demands were “excessive and not based on reality”.