BP hopes to lessen potential $13.7 billion spill penalty

NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Lawyers for the government and oil giant BP are preparing for trial in New Orleans that could add more than $13 billion in penalties to the billions BP already has shelled out as a result of 2010 Gulf oil spill.

Federal lawyers say BP should pay as much as $4,300 per barrel spilled after the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion at BP’s Macondo well. Based on a court finding that 3.19 barrels polluted the Gulf, the penalties could reach $13.7 billion.

BP will argue for a lower figure in the trial opening Tuesday. It says its costs already have hit $42 billion, including a $14 billion response and cleanup. Its pre-trial briefs say a low-end penalty would accomplish the Clean Water Act’s purposes: deterring environmentally dangerous behavior and encouraging effective responses.

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