The Plaintiffs' Steering Committee (PSC), which is spearheading litigation resulting from the Macondo oil spill in 2010, has reached a preliminary agreement with Deepwater Horizon rig owner Transocean Ltd. to settle claims arising from the accident.
The $211.8 million settlement requires approval by Judge Carl A. Barbier of the Eastern District of Louisiana, who is in charge of the multi-district litigation. The settlement includes two classes of eligible claimants, similar to one reached in 2014 with Macondo well cement contractor Halliburton Co. The funds are to help compensate people and businesses for their losses.
Through the agreement, Transocean effectively has resolved its liability to private plaintiffs and local governments for most of its exposure under the Oil Pollution Act and General Maritime Law.
A unit of BP plc, which was operator and majority owner of the well, also settled with Transocean on Wednesday, the same day that it settled all claims against Halliburton (see Daily GPI, May 20).
Transocean and BP agreed to release all claims against each other, and BP agreed to pay Transocean $125 million to compensate for legal fees. BP also agreed to indemnify Transocean for compensatory damages, including natural resource damages. Transocean in turn said it would indemnify BP for personal and bodily injury claims of Transocean employees and claims tied to the future cleanup to remove diesel or other pollutants stored on the rig.
BP said it now has "resolved with Halliburton and Transocean the final remaining disputes stemming from the Deepwater Horizon accident. We have now settled all matters relating to the accident with both our partners in the well and our contractors."
BP still is facing billions in federal fines under the Clean Water Act, which are to be announced by Barbier, who last year found BP to be grossly negligent for the accident.
BP this week also disputed a report published on Wednesday by the peer-reviewed scientific journal PLOS One that said most of the dolphins in the northern Gulf of Mexico that have died since the 2010 oil spill suffered severe health problems consistent with petroleum exposure.
Forty-six bottlenose dolphins were found dead from 2010 to 2012 in waters off the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, which were impacted by the massive spill.
BP said the study proved no connection between the disaster and the deaths. The deaths actually began in February 2010, two months before the spill, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
"Correlation is not evidence of causation," said a BP spokesman.