[US Department of Justice] stresses BP’s role in Gulf oil spill
BP employees were responsible for critical decisions that led to the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010, the US government has said in a court filing. Giving a preview of the case it will make against the company in the trial scheduled to start at the end of the month, the Department of Justice said in a joint court memorandum with Transocean, owner and operator of the Deepwater Horizon rig: “Transocean’s crew, while negligent, carried out drilling operations in general . . . under BP’s instruction and supervision.”…BP responded that the memo played down Transocean’s role in causing the accident, and that its assertions over responsibilities on the Macondo project would be argued over at trial. The trial is scheduled to begin on February 25 and is expected to last until the end of the year. Since its settlement last month of its civil and criminal claims against Transocean, worth $1.4bn in total, the US government has been solely focused on BP. It is pursuing the company for penalties under the Clean Water Act, which could reach up to $21bn if BP is found to have acted with gross negligence in causing the accident… However, BP has always denied gross negligence, a more serious claim requiring a higher level of proof.