Halliburton Wins Ruling vs BP Over Gulf Oil Spill

By Jonathan Stempel | February 1, 2012

A federal judge on Tuesday said Halliburton Co is not liable for some pollution claims arising from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, setting back BP Plc’s effort to hold other companies responsible for part of the $42 billion cleanup.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans said BP must indemnify Halliburton , which provided cementing services for the Macondo oil well, for third-party compensatory claims under their contract, even if Halliburton is found grossly negligent.

The indemnification relates to claims arising from pollution or contamination that did not originate from Halliburton property located above the land or water.

Halliburton would still be responsible for punitive damages, as well as civil fines under the federal Clean Water Act.

Barbier issued a similar ruling on Jan. 26 that required BP to indemnify Transocean Ltd, which owned the drilling rig.. That ruling meant BP could not shift more than $15 billion of costs for the spill.

BP spokesman Daren Beaudo and Halliburton spokeswoman Beverly Stafford did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.

Barbier oversees multidistrict litigation over the April 20, 2010, explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig.

The accident caused 11 deaths and the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history. Barbier has set a Feb. 27 start date for a bench trial to apportion blame.

Halliburton is based in Houston, and BP in London.

In afternoon trading in New York, Halliburton shares were up 37 cents at $37.04, and BP’s American depositary receipts were up 97 cents at $45.11.

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.

(Reporting By Jonathan Stempel; editing by John Wallace)

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