The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

January 3, 2013

Feds, Transocean reach $1.4B deal over Gulf spill

(Continued)

Transocean previously announced it had reserved $2 billion for paying claims related to the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Transocean also said in a September regulatory filing that it had rejected settlement offers last year from BP and a group of attorneys for Gulf Coast residents and businesses who blame the spill for economic damages. Those claims are still pending.

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.

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.

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