On Jan. 15, Judge Carl Barbier issued his order on the Phase Two “Source Control” trial, which was set to determine the amount of oil spilled in the Gulf of Mexico during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Because there was no mechanism in place to physically determine how much oil actually spilled into the Gulf, the Court relied on expert testimony concerning the “flow rate” at the well head. Judge Barbier, in analyzing the testimony, found that no evidence suggested a different conclusion from his previous Phase One order, but he did determine that BP was not grossly negligent in controlling the spill. As to the amount of oil spilled in the Gulf, Judge Barbier found as follows:
The Court finds that 4.0 million barrels of oil released from the reservoir. After deducting the Collected Oil from this amount per the parties’ stipulation, the Court finds for purposes of calculating the maximum possible civil penalty under the CWA that 3.19 million barrels of oil discharged into the Gulf of Mexico.
The determination is less than the previous 4.09 million barrel Federal Government estimate, and slightly more than estimates made by BP. With the total release number determined, the $4,300 per barrel maximum fine means BP could face a total fine price tag of $13.7 billion.
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