Monday, October 17, 2011

BP, Anadarko Settle Gulf Disaster Claims
By ROBERT BARR Associated Press


Anadarko Petroleum Co. has agreed to pay $4 billion to BP PLC as part of a settlement related to last year's Gulf of Mexico oil spill, adding weight to BP's contention that it was not solely responsible for the disaster.

BP said Monday that Anadarko's payment will form part of the British company's $20 billion trust fund, which has paid out $7 billion so far to settle claims from individuals and businesses. Eleven workers were killed when the Deepwater Horizon rig at the Macondo well exploded off Louisiana on April 20, 2010, causing the largest oil spill in U.S. history.

BP has now reached settlements with both of its partners in the Macondo well.

However, it is still embroiled in lawsuits and countersuits with Transocean Ltd., operator of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, and Halliburton Co., which was responsible for cementing the well. The suits are scheduled to go to trial in New Orleans in February.

BP also faces the prospect of fines in the tens of billions of dollars.

The market cheered the Anadarko agreements, pushing BP shares 4 percent higher at 433 pence in early afternoon trading on the London Stock Exchange.

"The acceptance of partial liability by Anadarko further reduces the likelihood of punitive damages against BP," Jonathan Jackson, head of equities at Killik & Co.

"If the group is not found grossly negligent, fines relating to the incident would be a basic amount of $1,100 per barrel, as opposed to $4,300 per barrel if found guilty, Jackson said, adding that the not-guilty verdict would still cost the company $15.7 billion.

BP has made provisions for up to $42 billion in costs from the blowout, and it has embarked on raising $30 billion by selling assets.

Anadarko, based in The Woodlands, Texas, is handing over its 25 percent stake in the well to BP as part of the settlement.

The agreement also gives Anadarko a potential share in funds which BP recovers from third parties or insurance. If BP's total recovery exceeds $1.5 billion, Anadarko would get 12.5 percent of the excess, or up to $1 billion, BP said.

"This settlement agreement with BP is the right action for our stakeholders, as it removes significant uncertainty regarding future liabilities and associated risks," said Jim Hackett, chairman and CEO of Anadarko.

"This settlement represents a positive resolution of a significant uncertainty and it resolves the issues among all the leaseholders of the Macondo well," said BP Chief Executive Bob Dudley.

"There is clear progress with parties stepping forward to meet their obligations and help fund the economic and environmental restoration of the Gulf," Dudley said. "It's time for the contractors, including Transocean and Halliburton, to do the same."

In May, BP announced a settlement with the other partner in the well, MOEX Offshore 2007 LLC, which owned 10 percent it. That company agreed to pay BP $1 billion.

Weatherford International Inc., a contractor based in Switzerland, also agreed in June to pay $75 million to the trust fund to settle claims between it and BP. Weatherford manufactured the float collar, designed to help contain cement, used in the blown-out well.

U.S. regulators last week cited BP PLC, Transocean Lld. and Halliburton for alleged safety and environmental violations stemming from last year's rig explosion and massive Gulf oil spill.

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