Transocean Ltd., owner of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, reached an agreement last week for $211 million with a committee of lawyers representing businesses and individuals claiming damages from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
In addition, BP — which leased the rig from Transocean — reached settlements resolving years of complicated spill-related litigation with Transocean, and with contractor Halliburton, which did cement work on the rig before it exploded in April 2010, killing 11 workers and leaking millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico for 87 days.
Court rulings have put the brunt of responsibility for the disaster on BP. But Transocean and Halliburton also had some responsibility, the courts said.
The nearly $211.8 million settlement that Transocean reached with the Plaintiffs Steering Committee will involve two classes of businesses and individuals. One class is already part of a settlement BP reached with plaintiffs in 2012. The other is a new “punitive damages class” that for various reasons was not a part of the BP settlement, perhaps because its members opted out or because the courts did not deems them eligible.
Halliburton reached a similar settlement with plaintiffs, for $1 billion, last year.
“We applaud Transocean for adding to the settlement funds established in the Halliburton settlement to help compensate people and businesses for their losses,” said attorneys Stephen J. Herman and James P. Roy, leaders of the Plaintiffs Steering Committee, in a prepared statement.
Notice of the preliminary settlement agreement with plaintiffs, which does not involve BP, is not yet official in federal court in New Orleans, where U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier presides over the oil spill cases.
As for the other settlements, Halliburton released a brief statement saying its agreement with BP settles which business will cover various damages and includes “dismissal of all claims against each other” arising from the spill.
Transocean said its settlement includes an agreement BP will indemnify Transocean for natural resource damages, while Transocean will indemnify BP for injury claims by Transocean employees. The settlement also includes a $125 million payment from BP to cover legal fees, Transocean said.
“We are pleased to have resolved with Halliburton and Transocean the final remaining disputes stemming from the Deepwater Horizon accident,” BP spokesman Geoff Morrell said in a statement. “We have now settled all matters relating to the accident with both our partners in the well and our contractors.”
“We are pleased to have reached an amicable resolution with BP, our valued customer, that allows us to close another chapter in the Deepwater Horizon case for Halliburton,” said Dave Lesar, chairman and chief executive of Halliburton.
Transocean called its settlement a step toward renewing its partnership with BP.
“Most importantly, while the litigation is finally coming to an end, it is important that we, as an industry, continue to remember the eleven men who lost their lives in this tragedy, and keep them and their families in our thoughts and prayers,” said Jeremy Thigpen, president and chief executive of Transocean.