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Billions of dollars at stake for BP, other companies as trial opens for Gulf oil spill

FILE - In this aerial file photo madeWednesday, April 21, 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico, more than 50 miles southeast of Venice on Louisiana's tip, an oil slick is seen as the Deepwater Horizon oil rig burns. Nearly three years after the deadly rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico triggered the nation's worst offshore oil spill, a federal judge in New Orleans is set to preside over a high-stakes trial for the raft of litigation spawned by the disaster on Monday Feb. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, file)

FILE - In this aerial file photo madeWednesday, April 21, 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico, more than 50 miles southeast of Venice on Louisiana's tip, an oil slick is seen as the Deepwater Horizon oil rig burns. Nearly three years after the deadly rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico triggered the nation's worst offshore oil spill, a federal judge in New Orleans is set to preside over a high-stakes trial for the raft of litigation spawned by the disaster on Monday Feb. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, file)  (The Associated Press)

A trial has started for the high-stakes case against BP and other companies involved in a deadly rig explosion that spawned the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier is scheduled to hear several hours of opening statements Monday by lawyers for the companies, federal and state governments and others who sued over the disaster. Barbier is hearing the case without a jury.

The trial is designed to identify the causes of BP's well blowout and assign percentages of fault to the companies. That will help determine how much more each has to pay.

Months of negotiations have failed to produce a settlement that could have averted the trial. Eleven workers died in the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig.