The U.S. Supreme Court refused oil giant BP’s challenge to a settlement deal to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to businesses damaged by the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
BP argued that the losses claimed by the businesses after the disaster “were not fairly traceable to the spill,” and sought to have the settlement reviewed by the U.S. high court.
However, the nine justices, after a closed door hearing, issued a decision rejecting BP’s request.
The British oil company has so far paid out around $36.3 billion in fines, cleanup costs, and compensation to individuals and companies — and this recent defeat comes after a federal judge in September found them grossly negligent in the spill. Now, BP may have to fork over another $18 billion in civil penalties.
According to the BBC, BP is trying to limit payments over the environmental disaster, which claimed the lives of 11 people and became the largest U.S. offshore oil spill in history.
The settlement agreement is said to have no cap, but BP initially estimated that it would pay roughly $7.8 billion to compensate victims. Since then, the company says it can no longer give a reliable estimate for how much the deal will cost and has set aside $43 billion to resolve all claims.
Yahoo Finance reports that BP spokesman Geoff Morrell expressed regret on Monday over the Supreme Court ruling — and said in a statement that new accounting guidelines “will improve the program’s compliance with the terms of the settlement agreement.”
But Morrell said BP continues to feel that the problem for which it sought relief from the U.S. high court still persists.
“We… remain concerned that the program has made awards to claimants that suffered no injury from the spill — and that the lawyers for these claimants have unjustly profited as a result,” Morrell added.
“On behalf of all our stakeholders, we will therefore continue to advocate for the investigation of suspicious or implausible claims and to fight fraud where it is uncovered.”
According to a study published in October, as many as two million barrels of crude oil streamed into the Gulf of Mexico, decimating the wildlife and devastating the ecology of a region heavily dependent on the seafood and tourism industries.
[Image via Lawco]