NEW ORLEANS (CN) – BP waived its claim to a $75 million liability cap for the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe. The four-page document, filed this week in Federal Court, is signed by liaison counsel for BP, Don Haycraft, and explains BP’s position on the Oil Pollution Act’s liability cap.
There was confusion about BP’s intentions with regard to the cap during a public status conference last Friday. In response, U.S. District Judge Carl J. Barbier gave BP attorneys seven days to get the matter of the liability cap figured out.
Haycraft responded Monday with a memorandum that expressly states BP waives the cap.
“BP consistently has said it would pay all legitimate claims, regardless of the OPA statutory limit of liability,” the memorandum states. “To this end, BP already has paid claims many times over the OPA limit and will live up to its public commitment to pay all legitimate claims made in connection with the Deepwater Horizon incident and resulting oil spill.”
The memorandum makes clear that BP is not admitting negligence in the April 20 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, which set off the worst oil spill in U.S. history.
“Accordingly, BP has chosen to waive the statutory limitation on liability under OPA; however, by making this statement, BP and its affiliates are not admitting anything about their conduct and, indeed, specifically deny that they have engaged in any gross negligence in connection with the Deepwater Horizon incident and the resulting oil spill,” the memorandum states.
Because BP is the lease holder for the Macondo well that broke during the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig, BP was the company that took first action to deal with the spill.
BP made payments to areas affected by the spill to cover costs of securing equipment and other spill mitigation resources. From the outset, BP also gave charities around the Gulf Coast money to help with pressing human needs.
But several other defendants, such as the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig, Transocean, also face liability questions and are legally covered under the Oil Pollution Act’s $75 million liability cap.
Naming Transocean Holdings LLC, Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and MOEX Offshore LLC as examples of other parties responsible for the spill, BP’s memorandum states that if the other responsible parties decide not to waive their liability under the OPA cap, it will not affect BP’s liability. The memo adds that “BP urges them to unequivocally waive their respective rights to invoke the limits.”
“Even if other Responsible Parties refuse to make such a commitment, it will not affect BP’s pledge to step forward in the first instance to pay all legitimate claims in an efficient and fair manner,” the memorandum states.
The memorandum was filed Oct. 19 in Judge Barbier’s court.