NEW ORLEANS -- BP PLC has settled out of court with lawyers acting on behalf of thousands of individuals and businesses affected by the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
The company said in a statement to NewsCore that the settlement was worth about $7.8 billion, which would be paid from a $20 billion trust set up in the wake of the disaster.
In a court order Friday night Judge Carl Barbier said Magistrate Judge Sally Shushan, who was meeting with the parties, "has now advised the Court that Plaintiffs' counsel and counsel for BP have reached an agreement on the terms of a proposed class settlement which will be submitted to the Court for approval," The Wall Street Journal reported.
Because the settlement "would likely result in a realignment of the parties in this litigation and require substantial changes to the current Phase I trial plan, and in order to allow the parties to reassess their respective positions," Barbier adjourned the start of a civil trial that was set to start Monday.
Barbier had previously delayed the start of the civil trial to allow the parties more time to negotiate a settlement.
The April 20, 2010 explosion aboard the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon killed 11 workers and spewed 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
It took 87 days to cap the well, some 5,000 feet below the surface and 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana.
Several government probes spread the blame among BP, Transocean and Halliburton and castigated them for cutting corners and missing warning signs that could have prevented the disaster.
"From the beginning, BP stepped up to meet our obligations to the communities in the Gulf Coast region, and we've worked hard to deliver on that commitment for nearly two years," BP CEO Bob Dudley said in a statement.
"The proposed settlement represents significant progress toward resolving issues from the Deepwater Horizon accident and contributing further to economic and environmental restoration efforts along the Gulf Coast."
The Gulf seafood industry will receive $2.3 billion for economic loss, while other claims for economic loss and medical issues will also be covered.
"This settlement reflects our commitment not only to the Gulf region, but also to the United States as a whole," Dudley said.
"BP has operated in America for more than 100 years, employs nearly 23,000 people in the US, and invests more in the US than in any other country."