BP has struck a deal to receive around $1 billion (Dh3.67 billion) from one of its minority partners in the blown-out Gulf of Mexico well, raising hopes it will successfully pursue other companies involved and reduce its bill for the disaster.
BP said on Thursday that Moex Offshore 2007 LLC, which had a 10 per cent interest in the Macondo well, has agreed to pay $1.065 billion to settle all claims between the companies over the accident on the Deepwater Horizon rig.
Under the settlement, Moex, a unit of Japanese trading house Mitsui & Co, agreed to recognise findings by the US Presidential Commission that the accident "was the result of a number of separate risk factors, oversights and outright mistakes by multiple parties and a number of causes."
It also recognised findings from the US Coast Guard that "the safety management systems of both Transocean and its Deepwater Horizon rig had significant deficiencies that rendered them ineffective in preventing the accident."
Shares in BP closed 2.7 per cent higher at 460 pence (Dh27) after analysts said the deal puts pressure on BP's other minority partner, Anadarko, to reach a similar deal and leaves rig operator Transocean open to a combined assault for compensation.
Evolution Securities analyst Richard Griffith said success on those fronts would reduce his estimate of BP's total liabilities, which currently stands at $25-$30 billion.
"Critically Mitsui has joined BP in recognising that the accident was the consequence of a number of risks and actions by multiple parties," said Griffith.
"Perhaps more significantly is the broader recognition that Transocean's safety management systems on the rig were deficient and where this could lead BP and its licence partners to pursue Transocean for compensation thus reducing the overall size of the liability net to BP."
Jonathan Jackson, head of equities at Killik & Co, said he was "slightly disappointed" by the size of the settlement, but the news was positive.
"It is the first time that a company involved in the well has joined BP in helping to meet the cost of the accident and it appears to reinforce the likelihood that BP will not be found grossly negligent, an outcome that would bring a much larger liability under the Clean Water Act," Jackson said.
Moex filed lawsuit
Moex had filed a lawsuit in New Orleans on the April 20 anniversary of the Gulf spill, asking a federal judge to declare it was not responsible for the damages and cleanup costs resulting from the worst off-shore oil spill in US history. Moex was joined by Anadarko in suing BP, with both companies claiming that London-based BP was responsible for the blow-out and the spill.
BP said that the payment from Moex announced on Friday — to be paid by its parent company, Moex USA Corp — was not an admission of liability by any party regarding the accident. The companies agreed to drop mutual claims against each other.