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Feds, Transocean reach $1.4B deal over Gulf spill

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 3, 2013 at 5:54 pm •  Published: January 3, 2013

Last month, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans gave final approval to a class-action settlement agreement between BP and a team of private plaintiffs' attorneys. BP estimates it will pay about $7.8 billion to resolve these claims, but the settlement isn't capped.

Barbier also is set to preside over a trial designed to identify the causes of BP's deadly well blowout and assign percentages of fault to the companies involved. The first phase of the trial is scheduled to start Feb. 25.

BP reported profits of more than $25 billion in 2011, but for Transocean the year resulted in a loss of about $5.7 billion, some of it attributed to contingencies for litigation resulting from the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon.

A series of government investigations has spread out the blame for the nation's worst offshore oil spill among BP, Transocean and other partners on the project, including cementing contractor Halliburton.

Halliburton hasn't settled with the Justice Department, BP or Transocean.

The Deepwater Horizon was drilling in water a mile deep about 50 miles southeast of the Louisiana coast when it exploded on the night of April 20, 2010.

The Justice Department says Transocean crew members on the rig, acting at the direction of BP supervisors, failed to fully investigate clear signs that the well was not secure and that oil and gas were flowing into the well.

The rig burned for about 36 hours before sinking.

As engineers made repeated attempts to halt the flow of oil from BP's burst well, millions of gallons of crude flowed out. Marshes, beaches and fishing grounds across the northern Gulf were fouled by the oil.

Two BP employees who worked as well-site leaders on the rig were indicted in November on manslaughter charges stemming from the 11 workers' deaths. The indictment accuses Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine of disregarding high pressure readings that should have indicated trouble before the blowout.

No criminal charges have been filed against individual Transocean employees.

One of Kaluza's attorneys, Shaun Clarke, said the Transocean deal is part of prosecutors' efforts to "sell a fiction" about the events leading up to the explosion.

"The companies want to get on with their business. The government wants a scapegoat. Bob and Don just want to get their day in court and have the truth be told," Clarke said.


Associated Press writer Pete Yost in Washington contributed to this report.