BP Looks for Way Out of Spill Settlement, Tries to Revive Fields in Iraq and Iran

Joel Anderson  |

British petroleum giant BP plc (BP) may be having second thoughts about the $9.6 billion settlement made with victims of 2010’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill that ravaged much of the Gulf coast. Victims of the spill filing to appeal the settlement claim that the company is looking to get approval for the settlement by a lower court overturned, saying that the claims administrator’s interpretation was serving to “undermine” the initial settlement.

“It was reversible error for the district court to approve a settlement that was susceptible to an interpretation that undermines commonality and typicality, and permits the payment of settlement benefits to persons clearly outside of the class definition of intended beneficiaries,” stated John Pentz, a lawyer representing a group of victims appealing the settlement, in today’s filing.

At issue is the interpretation of who can be classified as a victim, with BP claiming that the process for filing claims in corrupt and could result in the company having to pay billions to people and businesses not affected by the spill.

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UK Tries to Exempt Company from Iran Sanctions

The British government is currently in talks with the United States and the European Union over the possibility of exempting BP from the current sanctions against Iran. This would pave the way for BP to restart a natural gas field in the North Sea that’s partially owned by an Iranian company. The Rhum field is 50 percent owned by IOC UK, an affiliate of Iran’s state-run oil company, and it’s been closed since 2010 when BP halted production in response to increasing American and European pressure on Iran.

"The BP gas field could be exempted from sanctions under an EU Council Regulation adopted in December 2012 amending previous regulation on restrictive measures against Iran," an EU spokeswoman said to Bloomberg.

Disputed Iraqi Oil Field Targeted by BP

BP also signed a deal with the Iraqi government to revive the controversial Kirkuk oilfield in northern Iraq, with BP expected to inject over $100 million over 18 months to help Iraq prevent further declines in production. The decision could lead to difficulties due to the contested nature of the region; the agreement is likely going to be disputed by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Production for the oil field is down to some 280,000 barrels a day from the 900,000 barrels a day it produced in 2001. The Iraqi government is looking for BP to help them get production back up to 600,000 a day within 5 years.

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