Oil spill will cost Transocean less
Swiss-based Transocean, the company involved in drilling the well that blew out in the Gulf of Mexico and spawned America's largest offshore oil spill, will face fewer pollution claims.
A United States federal judge ruled on Thursday that the firm was shielded in a contract with well-owner BP. The decision will spare Transocean having to meet claims stemming from clean-up costs and economic losses, estimated at $40 billion (SFr36.85 billion).
However, District Judge Carl Barbier said the driller is not exempt from paying possible punitive damages and civil penalties that arise from the April 20, 2010, blowout 160 kilometres off the Louisiana coast. Any penalties inflicted under the US Clean Water Act could amount to billions of dollars.
The ruling comes as BP, the US southern states affected by the disaster and the American government are discussing a settlement.
BP, Transocean and oilfield services firm Halliburton have been sparring over who was at fault for causing the accident. The out-of-control well was capped in July 2010. Federal investigators have said that BP bears ultimate responsibility for the spill, but has faulted all three companies to some degree.
Transocean said in a statement that the company was pleased to see its position affirmed.
"This confirms that BP is responsible for all economic damages caused by the oil that leaked from its Macondo well, and discredits BP's ongoing attempts to evade both its contractual and financial obligations," it pointed out.
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