BP to Government: $21 Billion Fine is 'Excessive'
Oil giant says it would rather go to court than continue negotiations.
BP has announced that it will square off against the federal government in court next week to fight "excessive" claims arising from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil disaster.
In a combative statement, the oil giant said it had been open to a settlement in the civil trial, set to start on Monday in a federal court in New Orleans. But it had failed to reach a deal with federal government lawyers.
The trial could potentially result in $21 billion in civil damages for BP, but the company said on Tuesday it would rather take its chances in court than continue negotiations with federal government lawyers.
"Faced with demands that are excessive and not based on reality or the merits of the case, we are going to trial," said Rupert Bondy, the BP's general counsel, said in a statement.
The trial is the last major hurdle to BP's efforts to move beyond the fatal blowout of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, which killed 11 people and resulted in the biggest oil spill in US history.
BP has already accepted criminal responsibility for the disaster, pleading guilty last November to manslaughter and lying to Congress and paying $4.5 billion in fines. It reached a separate $7.8 billion settlement earlier last year with thousands of local individuals that suffered economic damages because of the oil disaster.
But Bondy indicated the company had become stuck trying to reach a deal on the big ticket item: up to $21 billion in fines for environmental damage arising from the oil disaster.
The fines, which would be levied under the Clean Water Act, would go directly for coastal restoration in Louisiana, Mississippi, and other Gulf states. More than 40 lawyers for federal and state governments are expected to be in court on Monday.
At issue are BP's efforts to stop the doomed Macondo well, which gushed for three months before it was finally sealed off by company engineers.