BP seeks cuts in budget of settlement program

Oil giant calls federal judge's third-quarter, $130M proposal excessive in Gulf spill.
By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN Published: September 13, 2013
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— BP has urged a federal judge to reject a $111 million budget request by the court-supervised administrator of the company's multibillion-dollar settlement with Gulf Coast businesses and residents after its 2010 Gulf oil spill.

In a court filing Wednesday, BP attorneys said claims administrator Patrick Juneau refused to cut his office's fourth-quarter budget request by at least $25.5 million after the company complained that it was excessive.

Last month, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier ordered the London-based oil giant to pay more than $130 million for Juneau's third-quarter budget despite the company's objections.

BP said Juneau's latest budget proposal isn't reasonable, either, and shouldn't be approved. The company claims Juneau's office has failed to adequately manage its outside vendors' inflated expenses.

Juneau's office “is operating from the mistaken view that a budget item should be included unless BP can conclusively show it is not necessary,” BP lawyers wrote. “The proper presumption should be the exact opposite. Unless there is objective evidence that an expenditure is necessary, it should not be included in the budget.”

Barbier appointed former FBI Director Louis Freeh in July to conduct a broad review of the settlement program, including allegations that a lawyer who worked on Juneau's staff accepted a portion of settlement payments for claims he had referred to a New Orleans law firm.

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