BP loses bid 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

The US Supreme Court has refused to allow BP to stop paying compensation claims while it awaits a review of its settlement with businesses over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

BP said despite the decision it would continue to seek a review of the court's overall ruling on compensation.

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.

"The lifting of the injunction suspending the payment of business economic loss claims will allow hundreds of millions of dollars to be irretrievably scattered to claimants whose losses were not plausibly caused by the Deepwater Horizon accident," said BP spokesman Geoff Morrell.

However, lawyers representing the claimants said the ruling would "allow businesses to continue to receive the compensation they're rightly entitled to according to the objective, transparent formulas agreed to 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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