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US judge accepts BP collected 810,000 barrels of oil in spill

Published on Feb 20, 2013 1:16 PM
Smoke billows from a controlled burn of spilled oil off the Louisiana coast in the Gulf of Mexico coast line in this file photo taken June 13, 2010. A U.S. judge has accepted an agreement by BP Plc to plead guilty for its role in the Deepwater Horizon disaster and pay $4.5 billion in penalties for the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. History. -- FILE PHOTO : REUTERS

SAN FRANCISCO (REUTERS) - A judge in the United States ruled on Tuesday that British oil giant BP recovered 810,000 barrels of oil from its 2010 spill site and that this amount should be excluded from certain penalties it may face, cutting its maximum fine by as much as US$3.5 billion (S$4.3 billion).

Just days before he presides over a spill-related civil trial due to start on Feb 25 in New Orleans, US District Judge Carl Barbier deemed those barrels as "collected" during the spill. BP had sought this reduction in the penalty-relevant total more than a month ago.

"The 'Collected Oil' flowed from the subsurface reservoir, through the well, through the blow-out preventer, and never came into contact with any ambient sea water, and was not released to the environment in any way," the ruling said.

Earlier, BP said the US Department of Justice backed its assertion that the oil recovered directly from the leaking Macondo well should not count when it comes to fines that could be levied under the US Clean Water Act. It also repeated that the total 4.9 million spilt barrels estimate made by the US government in its claim against BP, including barrels recovered, was too high by 20 per cent.

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