NEW ORLEANS – The second week of trial to determine the amount of fines to be assessed in the 2010 BP oil spill has ended with both sides at extreme odds on the amount of oil released into the Gulf of Mexico.
Earlier in the week both the Department of Justice and BP presented expert testimony to U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier, who is hearing the case without a jury, on the amount of oil spilled from the Macondo well, a key factor in determining what the final penalty BP will have to pay under the Clean Water Act.
In this second phase of trial, fines will be determined by analyzing the actions taken by the defendants in stopping the release of oil and gasses from the well and calculating the amount of oil released. The second phase began on Sept. 30 and is scheduled to last for 15 business days.
According to BP’s experts, 2.45 million barrels of oil were released into the Gulf of Mexico during the spill after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded on April 20, 2010. However, the Department of Justice maintains the spill resulted in 4.2 barrels of oil being spilled at a minimum.
Depending on the judgment, BP could face fines estimated to be anywhere from $2.7 billion to $18 billion.
The determining factors are how much oil was spilled and if BP is found to be grossly negligent in the events leading up to and undertaken during the disaster. To come to a fine under the Clean Water Act the amount that is determined to have been spilled will be multiplied by a fine that varies from $1,100 for simple negligence to $4,300 for gross negligence.