Government sues to recover costs from Macondo well accident, spill

Nick Snow
OGJ Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, Dec. 16 -- The US Department of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency jointly sued to recover damages from the Apr. 20 Macondo well accident, which claimed 11 lives, and subsequent crude oil spill into the Gulf of Mexico.

DOJ and EPA filed a civil action in US District Court in New Orleans naming nine defendants, including the well’s operator, BP Exploration & Production Inc.; partner Anadarko Exploration & Production LP; offshore drilling contractor Transocean Holdings LLC; and insurers QBE Underwriting Ltd./Lloyd’s Syndicate 1036.

The complaint alleges violations of federal safety and operational regulations, including failures to take necessary precautions to secure the well before the blowout and explosion, use the safest drilling technology to monitor the well’s condition, maintain continuous surveillance of the well, and use and maintain equipment and materials necessary to protect personnel, property, natural resources, and the environment, US Atty. Gen. Eric Holder said.

“We intend to prove that these violations caused or contributed to this massive oil spill, and that the defendants are therefore responsible—under the Oil Pollution Act—for government removal costs, economic losses, and environmental damages,” he told reporters.

Holder said the federal government also is seeking fines under the Clean Water Act, which prohibits unauthorized discharges of oil and similar substances into US waters. “We allege that the defendants named in this lawsuit were in violation of the act throughout the months that oil was gushing into the Gulf of Mexico,” he said. “We intend to hold them fully accountable for their violations.”

He said DOJ launched both civil and criminal probes into the accident and spill as initial response efforts were under way, and that lawyers and investigations from the department closely coordinated their efforts with local US attorneys’ offices and states’ attorneys general.

“While today’s civil action marks a critical step forward, it is not a final step,” Holder declared. “Both our criminal and civil investigations are continuing. Our work to ensure that the American taxpayers are not forced to bear the costs of restoring the gulf area—and its economy—goes on. As I have said from the beginning, as our investigations continue, we will not hesitate to take whatever steps are necessary to hold accountable those responsible for this spill.”

DOJ worked with EPA, the US Coast Guard, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the US Department of Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement it its investigations for the civil suit, he noted.

In a response, BP said that the lawsuit “is solely a statement of the government’s allegations and does not in any manner constitute any finding of liability or any judicial finding that the allegations have merit,” adding, “BP will answer the government’s allegations in a timely manner and will continue to cooperate with all government investigations and inquiries.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

Related Articles

BP trims capital budget by $4-6 billion

02/03/2015 BP PLC plans an organic capital expenditure of $20 billion in 2015, down from the previous guidance $24-26 billion. Total organic capital expenditu...

EPA suggests DOS reconsider Keystone XL climate impact conclusions

02/03/2015 The US Department of State might want to reconsider its conclusions regarding potential climate impacts from the proposed Keystone XL crude oil pip...

Kerry expects to receive other agencies’ Keystone XL reports soon

02/02/2015 US Sec. of State John F. Kerry said he expects to receive other federal agencies and departments’ reports soon on the proposed Keystone XL crude oi...

Union strike under way at US refineries, petchem plants

02/02/2015 The United Steelworkers Union (USW) has instituted a strike at nine US refining and petrochemical production plants following a breakdown in negoti...

Victoria extends drilling, fracing ban

01/30/2015 The new Victorian Labor government of premier Daniel Andrews has extended the coal seam gas (CSG) exploration and hydraulic fracturing ban in the s...

US Senate passes bill approving Keystone XL pipeline project

01/30/2015 The US Senate has passed a bill approving construction of the proposed Keystone XL crude oil pipeline by a 62-36 vote after 3 weeks of debate. Nine...

Pennsylvania governor reinstates state forest drilling moratorium

01/29/2015 Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) signed an executive order fully reinstating a 2010 moratorium on new oil and gas leases in state forests and parks. ...

DOE could meet 45-day LNG export decision deadline, Senate panel told

01/29/2015 The US Department of Energy would have no trouble meeting a 45-day deadline to reach a national interest determination for proposed LNG export faci...

PHMSA outlines community steps to reduce pipeline incident risks

01/27/2015 The US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration released a guide to best practices for communities to reduce risks from pipeline inci...
White Papers

Transforming the Oil and Gas Industry with EPPM

With budgets in the billions, timelines spanning years, and life cycles extending over decades, oil an...
Sponsored by

Asset Decommissioning in Oil & Gas: Transforming Business

Asset intensive organizations like Oil and Gas have their own industry specific challenges when it com...
Sponsored by

Squeezing the Green: How to Cut Petroleum Downstream Costs and Optimize Processing Efficiencies with Enterprise Project Portfolio Management Solutions

As the downstream petroleum industry grapples with change in every sector and at every level, includin...
Sponsored by

7 Steps to Improve Oil & Gas Asset Decommissioning

Global competition and volatile markets are creating a challenging business climate for project based ...
Sponsored by

The impact of aging infrastructure in process manufacturing industries

Process manufacturing companies in the oil and gas, utilities, chemicals and natural resource industri...
Sponsored by

What is System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis?

This paper will explain some of the fundamentals of System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis and demonstrate...

Accurate Thermo-Fluid Simulation in Real Time Environments

The crux of any task undertaken in System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis is striking a balance between ti...

6 ways for Energy, Chemical and Oil and Gas Companies to Avert the Impending Workforce Crisis

As many as half of the skilled workers in energy, chemical and oil & gas industries are quickly he...
Sponsored by
Available Webcasts

On Demand

Global LNG: Adjusting to New Realities

Fri, Mar 20, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s March 20, 2015, webcast will look at how global LNG trade will be affected over the next 12-24 months by falling crude oil prices and changing patterns and pressures of demand. Will US LNG production play a role in balancing markets? Or will it add to a growing global oversupply of LNG for markets remote from easier natural gas supply? Will new buyers with marginal credit, smaller requirements, or great need for flexibility begin to look attractive to suppliers? How will high-cost, mega-projects in Australia respond to new construction cost trends?

register:WEBCAST


US Midstream at a Crossroads

Fri, Mar 6, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s Mar. 6, 2015, webcast will focus on US midstream companies at an inflection point in their development in response to more than 6 years shale oil and gas production growth. Major infrastructure—gas plants, gathering systems, and takeaway pipelines—have been built. Major fractionation hubs have expanded. Given the radically changed pricing environment since mid-2014, where do processors go from here? What is the fate of large projects caught in mid-development? How to producers and processors cooperate to ensure a sustainable and profitable future? This event will serve to set the discussion table for the annual GPA Convention in San Antonio, Apr. 13-16, 2015.

This event is sponsored by Leidos Engineering.

register:WEBCAST


The Future of US Refining

Fri, Feb 6, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s Feb. 6, 2015, webcast will focus on the future of US refining as various forces this year conspire to pull the industry in different directions. Lower oil prices generally reduce feedstock costs, but they have also lowered refiners’ returns, as 2015 begins with refined products priced at lows not seen in years. If lower per-barrel crude prices dampen production of lighter crudes among shale plays, what will happen to refiners’ plans to export more barrels of lighter crudes? And as always, refiners will be affected by government regulations, particularly those that suppress demand, increase costs, or limit access to markets or supply.

register:WEBCAST


Oil & Gas Journal’s Forecast & Review/Worldwide Pipeline Construction 2015

Fri, Jan 30, 2015

The  Forecast & Review/Worldwide Pipeline Construction 2015 Webcast will address Oil & Gas Journal’s outlooks for the oil market and pipeline construction in a year of turbulence. Based on two annual special reports, the webcast will be presented by OGJ Editor Bob Tippee and OGJ Managing Editor-Technology Chris Smith.
The Forecast & Review portion of the webcast will identify forces underlying the collapse in crude oil prices and assess prospects for changes essential to recovery—all in the context of geopolitical pressures buffeting the market.

register:WEBCAST


Emerson Micro Motion Videos

Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!

 

Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected