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US Supreme Court rejects BP appeal on Gulf oil spill fines

30 June 2015

The US Supreme Court has rejected appeals from BP and left intact a ruling that opens the company to potentially billions of dollars in fines for the 2010 Macondo well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico. In declining to hear the appeal, the high court let stand a ruling by US District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans that BP and its associate Anadarko were automatically liable as co-owners of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig. 

Supreme Court intervention might have delayed Barbier’s ruling on a US request for as much as $13.7 billion in civil fines from BP and more than $1 billion from Anadarko which may come at any time. BP and Anadarko owned a respective 65% and 25% of the Macondo well.

A federal appeals court last year upheld Barbier’s conclusion about BP’s and Anadarko’s liability under the Clean Water Act. The offshore blowout released millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf, the largest spill in US history.

BP had argued it was not liable because the spilled oil entered Gulf waters through equipment owned by its drilling contractor Transocean. Barbier ruled that oil was discharged from the well, making the co-owners  liable for the pollution fine.

Overall, BP has incurred more than $42 billion in costs for the spill, including cleanup, fines and victim compensation. Transocean agreed last year to pay the US government $1 billion in civil penalties over the spill.

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