BP settles with private plantiffs over Gulf oil spill

The multinational corporation said Wednesday it will pay out $7.8 billion from the $20 billion trust it set up after the Deepwater Horizon explosion.

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    In this April 21, 2010 file photo provided by the U.S. Coast Guard, fire boat response crews spray water on the blazing remnants of BP's Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico.
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BP Plc said on Wednesday it reached definitive agreements with well over 100,000 private plaintiffs to resolve claims for economic, property and medical damages resulting from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The London-based oil company said it still believes the cost of the settlement will be $7.8 billion, to be paid from a $20 billion trust it had previously set aside.

This coming Friday is the two-year anniversary of the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, which killed 11 workers and triggered the largest U.S. offshore oil spill, after BP's Macondo well ruptured.

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"BP made a commitment to help economic and environmental restoration efforts in the Gulf Coast," Chief Executive Bob Dudley said in a statement. "This settlement provides the framework for us to continue delivering on that promise, offering those affected full and fair compensation, without waiting for the outcome of a lengthy trial process."

According to settlement papers, about 109,000 condominium owners, hotel and resort operators, restaurateurs, shrimpers and others may be eligible to recover on economic and property claims. About 16,000 plaintiffs may recover for medical claims.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs may be awarded as much as $600 million to cover fees and costs. This sum is separate from any amounts paid to spill victims, settlement papers show.

The settlements require approval by U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans. A hearing to consider preliminary approval is set for around Nov. 8.

BP has already taken a $37.2 billion charge for the spill. It still faces claims from the U.S. government; Gulf states; and drilling partners Transocean Ltd, which owned the rig, and Halliburton Co, which provided cementing services.

The settlement with private plaintiffs put a trial over the spill on indefinite hold. Barbier has not set a new trial date.

The case is In re: Oil Spill by the Oil Rig "Deepwater Horizon" in the Gulf of Mexico, on April 20, 2010, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, No. 10-md-02179.

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