US launches civil action against BP

The US Department of Justice has filed a civil lawsuit against BP claiming that the company should be liable to pay for the damage caused from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The department alleges that the company violated US federal safety and operational regulations that caused or contributed to the oil spill that began in April 2010 when an explosion and fire destroyed the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico, approximately 50 miles from the Mississippi River Delta.

According to the lawsuit, BP failed to take necessary precautions to keep the Macondo Well under control in the period leading up to the explosion, and failed to use the safest drilling technology to monitor the well’s conditions.

What’s more, it is also claimed that BP did not maintain continuous surveillance of the well and failed to use and maintain equipment that was available and necessary to ensure the safety and protection of personnel, equipment, natural resources and the environment.

The complaint alleges that these violations caused or contributed to the massive oil spill and that BP, as well as a number of other companies with which it worked, are responsible for removal costs and damages.

The filing is solely a statement of the US government’s allegations and does not constitute any finding of liability or any judicial finding that the allegations have merit.

BP’s response to the civil action is that it will answer the US government’s allegations in a timely manner and will continue to co-operate with all government investigations and inquiries.

Alone among the parties, BP has already offered to pay for the clean-up of the oil, setting aside $20bn (£13bn) to pay all legitimate claims. The company took the steps before any legal determination of responsibility and said that it will continue to fulfill its commitments in the Gulf as the legal process unfolds.

Aside from BP, Anadarko, Moex Offshore, Triton Asset Leasing, Transocean and Transocean’s insurer QBE/Lloyd’s were also named in the lawsuit.