Author: Laura French
3 Oct 2014
BP claimed the ruling over the Deepwater Horizon Disaster in the Gulf of Mexico – the biggest offshore oil spill the US has ever seen – was based on evidence given that was not included in the trial.
US Judge Carl Barbier based the ruling on eight decisions BP employees allegedly made, including drilling in dangerous conditions and failing to test the well seal. It said that these “taken together, evince an extreme deviation from the standard of care and a conscious disregard of known risks”, the FT reported.
According to the ruling made, BP was to blame for 67 percent of the spill
But the oil giant contends that evidence for some of those apparent decisions was founded on claims made in court regarding a breached well seal that BP was not given an opportunity to object to. The response is the only formal one the company has given so far, although it has made previous unsuccessful attempts to reduce the fines.
The charges could cost the oil giant up to $18bn; while non-willful negligence would lead to fines of $1,100 per barrel of oil spilt, willful negligence would cost $4,300 per barrel. More than 4 million barrels were spilt according to the US government.
BP outlined two options in its motion, stating: “BP respectfully requests that the court eliminate its theory that this series of acts amounted to gross negligence”. It added: “In the alternative, BP would be entitled to a new trial.”
According to the ruling made, BP was to blame for 67 percent of the spill, with rig owner Transocean Ltd responsible for 30 percent.
BP’s request for the revision has led to the deadline for appeal being extended to 60 days from Judge Barbier’s response, rather than 60 days from the initial ruling as originally outlined. The company’s chief financial officer Brian Gilvary said BP is likely to contest the charges for “a number of years”, the FT reports.
Shares in BP plummeted 30 percent after the spill and still have not returned to their pre-catastrophe levels. The recent sanctions against Russia have put BP in a further state of flux. A spokesperson told European CEO: “We will comply with any [sanctions] that are applicable” but the company had warned the move could “adversely” impact its objectives given their significant stake in Russian oil company Rosneft.