BP faces billions in fines as spill trial nears

CAIN BURDEAU Associated Press Published:

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- A trial is slated to open Monday over the catastrophic 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and lawyers, executives and public officials are spending the waning days in settlement talks.

Holed up in small groups inside law offices, war rooms and hotel suites in New Orleans and Washington, they are trying to put a number on what BP and its partners in the doomed Macondo well project should pay to make up for the worst offshore spill in U.S. history.

It is a complex equation, and the answer is proving elusive.

If the judge sides with plaintiffs on the amount of oil spilled and determines BP was grossly negligent, the company conceivably could face up to $52 billion in environmental fines and compensation alone, according to an Associated Press analysis.