Transocean Settles All Deepwater Horizon Claims With BP

Deepwater Horizon burns in the Gulf of Mexico, April 21, 2010. Photo: U.S. Coast Guard
Deepwater Horizon burns in the Gulf of Mexico, April 21, 2010. Photo: U.S. Coast Guard

By David Wethe and Margaret Cronin Fisk

(Bloomberg) — Transocean Ltd., owner of the rig that sank in the 2010 Macondo disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, joined Halliburton Co. in settling all remaining issues with BP Plc.

Transocean and BP, the well’s owner, will mutually release all claims against each other, while the London-based exploration and production company will pay the rig contractor $125 million in compensation for legal fees, Transocean said Wednesday in a statement. Transocean, based in Vernier, Switzerland, also agreed to pay $212 million to two classes of plaintiffs represented by a committee in the Macondo litigation.

The settlements were the latest in a series of resolutions since the 2010 sinking of the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico, which set off thousands of lawsuits against BP, Transocean and Halliburton.

“These settlements provide substantial closure to five years of litigation,” Jeremy Thigpen, chief executive officer at Transocean, said in the statement. “We are confident that this agreement can be a significant step forward in our efforts to renew our partnership with BP.”

BP settled most private party claims for an estimated $10.3 billion and paid $4.5 billion to the U.S. to resolve criminal charges related to the spill. Transocean paid $1.4 billion to the U.S. in 2013 to settle pollution law penalties. Halliburton agreed in September to pay $1.1 billion to settle a majority of Macondo lawsuits.

BP said it’s pleased to have struck deals with Transocean and Halliburton and has now settled all Macondo matters with its contractors and partners in the well.

Water Violations

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier, who is overseeing the litigation over the spill, has yet to rule on the size of BP’s fines for Clean Water Act violations. The U.S. has asked for as much as $13.7 billion.

Barbier issued a decision in September that assigned Transocean 30 percent responsibility for causing the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history. BP was assigned 67 percent of the blame, while Halliburton was 3 percent liable.

The group of plaintiffs settling with Transocean include individuals, businesses and various local governments affected by the spill. The accord is similar to one struck with Halliburton last year, the steering committee said in a separate statement.

Halliburton, which provided cementing services for the doomed well, said earlier it reached a settlement with BP to resolve all remaining issues with the producer.

The case is In re Oil Spill by the Oil Rig Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010, MDL-2179, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans).

–With assistance from Laurel Calkins in Houston.

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