The second phase of the multi-district litigation (MDL) against BP plc concerning the Macondo well blowout got underway Monday in New Orleans, with lawyers battling it over the amount of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico for 87 days beginning April 20, 2010.

The first phase of the MDL 2179 trial, overseen by U.S. District Court Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans, was completed in April (see Daily GPI,May 1). Phase one centered on BP’s actions and those of its contractors before and after the accident. Cement well contractor Halliburton Co. and Deepwater Horizon rig owner Transocean Ltd. have attempted to shift most of the blame for the blowout to BP.

The second phase, also overseen by Barbier, is to determine how much oil was spilled into the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) in April 2010. BP has estimated that the well leaked about 2.45 million bbl of oil over 87 days, while the U.S. government claims it was closer to 4.2 million bbl.

On the opening day of the civil trial, plaintiffs attorneys claimed that BP’s crew was unprepared for the blowout and didn’t have an emergency plan in place nor the equipment at hand to cap a leaking deepwater well.

BP lead attorney Mike Brock told the court that the blowout was a “unique situation.” Having a capping stack in place ready to use for such an emergency was not required at the time by federal officials nor was it a standard industry practice, he told the court.

“That’s not fraud” or gross negligence, Brock told the court.