Halliburton to Pay $1.1 Billion to Settle Spill Lawsuits

Halliburton Co. agreed to pay $1.1 billion to settle a majority of lawsuits brought over its role in the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

The agreement is subject to court approval and includes legal fees, the Houston-based company said in a statement today. Halliburton was accused by spill victims and BP Plc of doing defective cementing work on the Macondo well before the April 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Halliburton blamed the incident on decisions by BP, which owned the well.

The settlement comes as the judge overseeing oil-spill cases weighs fault for the disaster. An agreement now averts the company’s risk of a more costly judgment for some spill victims and removes much of the uncertainty that has plagued Halliburton for the past four years as investors waited to see the payout tally. With its biggest piece of liability resolved, Halliburton can refocus its attention on developing new oilfield technology that will help it boost profits worldwide.

The settlement represents the most significant payout yet for Halliburton from the explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, which killed 11 workers and caused millions of barrels of oil to spill into the Gulf. The accident sparked hundreds of lawsuits against London-based BP, Halliburton and Vernier, Switzerland-based Transocean Ltd., the rig’s owner.

Photographer: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Chief counsel Fred Bartlit, center, questions witnesses, left to right, Executive Vice President of Safety & Operational Risk of BP Mark Bly, Director of Special Projects of Transocean Bill Ambrose, Insite Support Service Coordinator of Halliburton/Sperry Sun Drilling Service John Gisclair, and Gulf of Mexico Region Manager—Cementing of Halliburton Richard F. Vargo, Jr., during a hearing before the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill And Offshore Drilling in this Nov. 8, 2010 file photo at Grand Hyatt Washington Hotel in Washington, DC. Close

Chief counsel Fred Bartlit, center, questions witnesses, left to right, Executive Vice... Read More

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Photographer: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Chief counsel Fred Bartlit, center, questions witnesses, left to right, Executive Vice President of Safety & Operational Risk of BP Mark Bly, Director of Special Projects of Transocean Bill Ambrose, Insite Support Service Coordinator of Halliburton/Sperry Sun Drilling Service John Gisclair, and Gulf of Mexico Region Manager—Cementing of Halliburton Richard F. Vargo, Jr., during a hearing before the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill And Offshore Drilling in this Nov. 8, 2010 file photo at Grand Hyatt Washington Hotel in Washington, DC.

Transocean settled some claims for $1.4 billion last year, while BP has paid more than $28 billion and faces potentially tens of billions more.

State Lawsuits

Today’s agreement doesn’t resolve certain state lawsuits that have been filed against Halliburton, which has taken a $1.3 billion reserve for costs related to the incident, according to a July 25 earnings statement. Halliburton said it has incurred legal fees and expenses of about $294 million, with $263 million of this reimbursed or expected to be covered by insurance.

Halliburton rose 0.7 percent to $68.06 at 9:16 a.m. in New York, before the start of regular trading in U.S. markets. The shares have gained 33 percent this year before today.

The settlement will be paid into a trust in three installments during the next two years until all appeals have been resolved. A certain level of claimants must participate in the settlement or Halliburton can terminate it. The company didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on terms of the settlement.

The court case is In re Oil Spill by the Oil Rig Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010, MDL-2179, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans).

Photographer: Kari Goodnough/Bloomberg

Empty beach chairs rest on the sand as oil washes ashore in Orange Beach, Alabama, on June 19, 2010. Close

Empty beach chairs rest on the sand as oil washes ashore in Orange Beach, Alabama, on June 19, 2010.

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Photographer: Kari Goodnough/Bloomberg

Empty beach chairs rest on the sand as oil washes ashore in Orange Beach, Alabama, on June 19, 2010.

To contact the reporters on this story: David Wethe in Houston at dwethe@bloomberg.net; Margaret Cronin Fisk in Detroit at mcfisk@bloomberg.net; Laurel Calkins in Houston at lcalkins@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Susan Warren at susanwarren@bloomberg.net; Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net Tina Davis, Steven Frank

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