Supreme Court rejects BP, Anadarko over Deepwater Horizon spill penalties

2015-06-29 22:15
Weathered oil from a leaking pipeline that resulted in an explosion and collapse of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig is seen on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico near the coast of Louisiana. (Patrick Semansky, AP)

Weathered oil from a leaking pipeline that resulted in an explosion and collapse of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig is seen on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico near the coast of Louisiana. (Patrick Semansky, AP)

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Washington - The US Supreme Court on Monday rejected bids by BP and Anadarko Petroleum to avoid penalties under federal pollution law in connection with the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The high court left in place a June 2014 ruling by the New Orleans-based 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals, which said the companies were liable for civil penalties under the federal Clean Water Act.

The April 20, 2010, Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion and Macondo oil well rupture killed 11 workers and caused the largest offshore environmental disaster in US history, polluting large parts of the Gulf, killing marine wildlife and harming businesses.

BP could face a maximum penalty of $13.7bn under the Clean Water Act. Anadarko says it could be required to pay more than $1bn.

US District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans has not yet imposed penalties, but has ruled that BP was grossly negligent and that 3.19 million barrels of oil were spilled.

Overall, BP has incurred more than $42bn in costs for the spill, including clean-up, fines and victim compensation.

BP and Anadarko owned a respective 65% and 25% of the Macondo well.

The companies had argued in part that they should not be responsible for oil spilled as a result of failed equipment on the drilling rig, which was owned by Transocean.

As co-owners of the well, BP and Anadarko would be on the hook for resulting fines, the appeals court ruled.

Transocean agreed last year to pay the US government $1bn in civil penalties over the spill.

The cases are BP Exploration and Production Inc. v. US and Anadarko Petroleum vs US, US Supreme Court, Nos 14-1217 and 14-1167.

Read more on:    bp  |  us  |  environment

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