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NEW ORLEANS –- A federal judge ruled that of the oil companies involved in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, BP plc bears the majority of responsibility. U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier cited the company's reckless conduct, which could potentially expose BP to billions of dollars in penalties, the Associated Press reported.
Barbier presided in the 2013 trial to divide blame for the oil spill among three companies. His 153-page ruling states that BP bears 67 percent of the blame, followed by drilling rig owner Transocean Ltd. at 30 percent and cement contractor Halliburton Energy Services at 3 percent.
"Profit-driven decisions" made by BP led to the spill, Barbier wrote in his ruling. "These instances of negligence, taken together, evince an extreme deviation from the standard of care and a conscious disregard of known risks."
BP said it will appeal the ruling, noting the company "believes that an impartial view of the record does not support the erroneous conclusion reached by the District Court."
Last year, Barbier heard eight weeks of testimony to identify the causes of the oil spill and assign percentages of blame for the companies involved, followed by three weeks of testimony to estimate how much oil spilled into the Gulf and examine BP's efforts to seal the blown-out oil well.
The Clean Water Act states that a polluter can be forced to pay a maximum of either $1,100 or $4,300 per barrel of spilled oil, with the higher figure coming into effect if a company is found to be grossly negligent.
Government experts estimated that 176 million gallons spilled into the Gulf, while BP estimated that it was only 103 million gallons, according to the AP report.