BP’s $7.8 billion deal may speed payments

BP’s $7.8 billion deal may speed payments

BP’s $7.8 billion deal may speed payments

In this April 2010 photo fire boat response crews spray water on the blazing remnants of BP’s oil rig. BP agreed on March 2 to settle lawsuits by those who were affected. AP photo

The estimated $7.8 billion deal struck by BP, the oil giant, with businesses and individuals suing over the massive 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill could speed up payments to thousands of claimants and offers lawyers a potential windfall in legal fees.

London-based BP announced the deal on March 2 with the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee (PSC), which represents condominium owners, fishermen, hoteliers, restaurateurs and others who say their livelihoods were damaged by the April 20, 2010, explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and subsequent oil spill.

The settlement, which delayed a giant trial that had been set to get under way in a New Orleans federal court today is a step by BP toward resolving its liability in the case, which could stretch into the tens of billions of dollars.

But the deal does nothing to settle charges brought by BP’s biggest opponent in the trial: the U.S. government.

Eleven people died and 4.9 million barrels of oil spewed from the 1.6 kilometer-deep Macondo oil well in by far the worst offshore U.S. oil spill.