US judge upholds 'gross negligence' ruling against BP in Gulf of Mexico disaster

More than 10 people died in the accident and millions of barrels of oil polluted the sea

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BP received a blow today after a federal judge refused to change his ruling that its conduct in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil-rig disaster amounted to “gross negligence” — a decision that will greatly increase its costs for the spill.

US District Court Judge Carl Barbier said there was no basis for the oil giant’s claim that the testimony was unfair or prejudicial and rejected its call to amend his judgement on September 4 or hold a retrial.

The ruling of “gross negligence” could add as much as $15 billion (£9.56 billion) to BP’s costs for the disaster, which killed 11 people and spilled several million barrels of oil into the sea, by increasing the fine it must pay under the Clean Water Act.


A month after Judge Barbier’s September ruling, BP called for a retrial claiming a legal mistake. It argued the judge relied on evidence which had been excluded from the trial when reaching his findings.

BP pledged to continue its fight to have its actions in the Gulf of Mexico downgraded from “gross negligence” to “negligence” and go ahead with its challenge to Judge Barbier’s ruling through the appeal court.

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“We disagree with the court’s ruling today and will now move forward with our appeal of the September 4 decision,” a BP spokesman said. Its shares dipped 1.1 per cent to 425.10p.

Meanwhile, Halliburton, the company which cemented the Macondo oil well at the centre of the Gulf of Mexico spill, is in talks to buy Baker Hughes in a deal that is expected to value the oil-services group at more than $20 billion.