BP asks judge to freeze Gulf of Mexico spill payouts

The Deepwater Horizon burns Image copyright AFP
Image caption The explosion at the Deepwater Horizon rig killed 11 workers

BP has asked a US judge to allow it to halt paying compensation claims while it waits for the US Supreme Court to review its settlement with businesses over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

BP is unhappy it must pay some firms economic damages, whether or not they can prove the spill caused them losses.

The case has been working its way through the US justice system, with a Supreme Court hearing due.

BP wants compensation payouts to be put on hold until that case is heard.

It has asked US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia for compensation payments to be blocked for now.

If not, "countless awards totalling potentially hundreds of millions of dollars will be irreparably scattered to claimants that suffered no injury traceable to BP's conduct", the firm says.

The oil giant acted after the New Orleans-based 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals had earlier lifted an injunction preventing payments being made by BP.

Terms misinterpreted?

The explosion at the Deepwater Horizon rig, off the coast of Louisiana, killed 11 workers and caused the worst offshore oil spill in US history.

In the wake of that disaster, BP reached the terms of a settlement to compensate businesses. The firm initially estimated it would pay $7.8bn (£4.6bn) in business claims.

But the oil company has argued that the terms are being misinterpreted and that it would face paying compensation for false claims.

"No company would agree to pay for losses that it did not cause, and BP certainly did not when it entered into this settlement," BP said in an earlier statement.

BP has previously said that unwarranted claims include a company that had a fire unconnected to the oil spill, and another business that closed before the disaster.

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