16 Dec 2010

US to sue BP over Gulf of Mexico oil spill

8:36 pm on 16 December 2010

The United States government is suing BP and four other firms for allegedly violating federal safety regulations, in connection with the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

An explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig on 20 April killed 11 workers and spilled oil over several months, becoming the worst environmental disaster in US history.

The lawsuit seeks damages from BP, Transocean Ltd, Anadarko Petroleum Corp, Mitsui & Co Ltd unit MOEX and Transocean's insurer QBE Underwriting/Lloyd's Syndicate 1036 for their roles in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, Reuters reports.

The companies are accused of violating safety and operating regulations in the period leading up to the disaster, including failing to take the necessary precautions to keep the well under control, not using the best available and safest drilling technology and failing to maintain continuous surveillance of the well.

The government claims the companies also violated the US Clean Water Act and the Oil Pollution Act.

The lawsuit does not request a specific amount of damages. That would have to be determined by a judge at trial.

Cable reveals well blowout in Azerbaijan

An oil platform in Azerbaijan operated by BP suffered a well blowout and a huge gas leak about 18 months before the Gulf of Mexico spill, US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks revealed on Thursday.

The British energy giant was lucky it managed to evacuate its 212 workers safely after the incident, which led to two fields being shut and output being dramatically cut.

BP suffered the blowout in September 2008, as well as the gas leak which the firm acknowledged at the time, according to the cables, revealed in Britain's Guardian newspaper.

Another cable revealed that BP had a narrow escape after the gas did not catch fire.

The cables are part of a cache of about 250,000 United States diplomatic dispatches that WikiLeaks is progressively releasing.