British oil giant BP said Wednesday it has reached a deal with lawyers representing the plaintiffs in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and will pay an estimated 7.8 billion U.S. dollars to resolve economic, property and medical claims by more than 100,000 individuals and businesses.
BP and the Plaintiffs' Steering Committee "believe that the settlement agreements are a fair, reasonable and adequate resolution of the claims," BP said in a statement.
The two sides have asked for court approval of the deal and BP also has asked the court to adjourn the liability trial until it decides whether to sign off on the deal, according to the statement.
The 7.8 billion U.S. dollars, including administration costs and plaintiffs' attorneys' fees and expenses, is expected to be paid from the 20 billion dollars' trust that was set up in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, BP said.
The actual settlement could be higher or lower than 7.8 billion dollars, depending on the result of the claims processes, BP said.
BP still faces tens of billions of dollars of potential claims from the U.S. government; Gulf states; and drilling partners Transocean Ltd, which owned the Deepwater Horizon rig, and Halliburton Co, which provided cementing services for the blowout well.
Prior to the settlement, BP had spent more than 22 billion U.S. dollars "toward meeting its commitments in the Gulf," the company said. More than 8.1 billion dollars have been paid to individuals, businesses and government entities and about 14 billion dollars have been spent on operational response, BP said.
The April 20, 2010 blowout of BP's Macondo well triggered an explosion that killed 11 rig workers and unleashed the worst oil spill in U.S. history.
In the aftermath, BP created a 20-billion-dollar fund to compensate commercial fishermen, property owners, hotels and other tourism-driven businesses that claimed they suffered economic losses from the spill.