A federal judge in New Orleans has been picked to preside over more than 300 lawsuits filed against BP PLC and other companies in the aftermath of the Gulf oil spill.

An order issued Tuesday by the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation said 77 cases plus more than 200 potential "tag-along" actions will be transferred to U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier.

The judicial panel's order says the federal court based in New Orleans is the best place for the litigation because southeast Louisiana is the "geographic and psychological 'center of gravity'" for the cases.

Some of the 23 attorneys who appeared before the seven-member panel last month in Boise, Idaho, suggested that sending the cases to Houston, where BP's U.S. operations are based, might appear unfair to spill victims.