What is LawBrain?
It's a living legal community making laws accessible and interactive. Click Here to get Started »

BP Gulf Oil Spill

From lawbrain.com

Template:Current Event

The BP Gulf Oil Spill (also called Gulf oil spill, Deepwater Horizon oil spill, or Gulf of Mexico oil spill) is an oil spill that resulted from the explosion of a drilling well below the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010 which was under contract for BP Oil.

The explosion was followed by the spewing of oil estimated at 5,000 barrels or up to 70,000 barrels[1] of crude oil every day, making this potentially one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history.[2] Over 100 lawsuits are reported to have been filed against companies associated with the oil spill. [3] Lawsuits have been filed by families of the workers as well as by fishermen, restaurants, rental property owners, and other individuals or businesses who have suffered damage from the explosion, spill, and its effects.



British Petroleum ("BP") is an international oil and gas company that employs over 80,000 people and operates in over 100 countries worldwide. BP uses different technologies to find oil and gas under the earth's surface thereby reaching deeper reservoirs of resources. After discovering the resources, BP starts an extensive extraction process and moves the crude oil through pipelines and shipping.

On April 20, 2010, a BP offshore rig, known as the Deepwater Horizon, was drilling in the Gulf of Mexico about 52 miles southeast of the Louisiana Port of Venice. According to the coast guard, 11 to 15 crew members were reported missing after the oil rig caught on fire on April 20th and exploded. As of April 22nd, the oil rig sank into the sea leaving a plume of smoke spanning about 30 miles in the sky. When the rig sank off the southeast coast of Louisiana, the untapped wellhead was gushing oil into the Gulf. About 1.6 million gallons of oil have spilled since the explosion. BP estimates the cost of clean-up to be approximately $760 million.

Environmental Impact

Currently, the rig's well is under 5,000 feet of water and efforts to cease the spillage could last weeks or months. Over 210,000 gallons of crude oil is leaking into the Gulf daily, eliminating aquatic life and smothering the coastal wetlands of Louisiana and Mississippi.[4]

The Gulf of Mexico contains an intricate ecosystem which serves as a source of 40% of the seafood consumed in the United States.

The Gulf of Mexico serves as a home for wildlife migrating between American and U.S. waters. Many are concerned about the oyster reefs in the Gulf of which only 15% remain worldwide. As the orange-colored oil reaches Louisiana's Chandeleur Islands, it becomes even more of a threat to the sea birds and other wildlife that occupy the area. Birds are turning up either dead or enveloped in oil. Other marine life, such as sea turtles and fish, are being killed by toxic emulsions permeating the sea.

Federal and State Law Regulating Oil Pollution

The Oil Pollution Act (OPA) of 1990 dictates that oil companies must be prepared to prevent spillage from rigs and ships. This statute assigns liability to "each responsible party for a vessel or a facility from which oil is discharged, or which poses the substantial threat of a discharge of oil, into or upon the navigable water or adjoining shorelines or the exclusive economic zone ...."[5] Any party violating this law is liable for removal costs and damages.

Lawsuits Resulting from the BP Gulf Oil Spill

The floodgates of litigation have opened with a paper storm of class actions lawsuits by fishermen and others claiming substantial economic losses. More than 36 lawsuits are being pursued against BP, Transocean, Cameron International and Halliburton as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Since BP owns the Deepwater Horizon well, it's potential liability under the Oil Pollution Act is probably the highest. Specifically, 31 of these lawsuits are class-action suits filed in Texas and Florida. Plaintiffs include commercial fisherman, shrimpers, charter-boat operators and beachfront-property owners asked to represent anyone whose livelihood depends on coastal waters.[6]

Industries adversely affected by this disaster include fishing, tourism, boating, real estate rentals, and various others.

On May 13, 2010 attorneys representing Transocean filed for protection from lawsuits based on 150-year-old maritime law. Although actual recovery could reach tens of billions of dollars, Transocean believes this law caps their liability at slightly under $27 million. To challenge the liability cap, attorneys suing Transocean must prove that the company knew about problems that caused the oil spill and could have taken actions to limit or stop the spill.[7]

Effects on Inter-American Relations


  1. http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-oil-spill-measure-20100514,0,1541851.story
  2. http://www.reuters.com/news/video?videoId=84333377
  3. http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE64C03I20100513
  4. http://www.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/05/01/brune.oil.spill.danger/index.html
  5. http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/uscode/33/40/I/2702
  6. http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-05-01/bp-transocean-lawsuits-surge-as-oil-spill-spreads-in-gulf.html
  7. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=126805561

External links

Related Resources on FindLaw

Related Blogs on Findlaw

Failed to load RSS feed from http://search.yahooapis.com/WebSearchService/rss/webSearch.xml?appid=yahoosearchwebrss&query=gulf+oil+spill%20site:blogs.findlaw.com!

                                                                            Web Services by Yahoo!

See also


FindLaw AHK, FindLaw Michelle, FindLaw Nira, FindLaw Pierre, FindLaw Sarah, Sfitzpatrick