BP, Anadarko will pay civil penalties for oil spill, judge rules
BP and minority partner Anadarko Petroleum Corp. will have to pay civil penalties for violations of the Clean Water Act that led to the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier, who is presiding over BP oil-spill litigation, ruled Wednesday. The fines are calculated on a per-barrel basis and will be determined at a later date.
According to the Clean Water Act, fines can range from $1,100 per barrel of oil spilled to $4,300 per barrel, with the higher charges levied should gross negligence be ruled a factor in the cause of the oil spill.
Additionally, Judge Barbier said Transocean Ltd., which owned the Deepwater Horizon rig and leased it to BP, also might face paying civil fines under the Clean Water Act, but he wasn’t yet certain whether the company fit the definition as an “operator” of the Macondo well. The U.S. Justice Department has been pushing the court to hold BP, Anadarko, and Transocean liable for fines under the Clean Water Act.
Anadarko owned a 25-percent interest in BP’s Macondo well but did not have an active role in the drilling operation. In October, the company agreed to pay BP $4 billion to settle certain legal claims. Anadarko attorneys attempted to argue that the oil blew out of Transocean’s Deepwater Horizon rig and not the Macondo well, but Judge Barbier rejected that argument.
“Pressure within the earth drove hydrocarbons up the Macondo well, through the [blowout preventer], and finally out the riser,” Judge Barbier wrote. “Thus, the uncontrolled movement of oil began in the well. The riser and [blowout preventer], by contrast, were merely passive conduits through which oil flowed.”
A three-stage trial is set to open Monday in New Orleans. The first phase of the trial will seek to apportion fault for the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill amongst BP and its partners and contractors.
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