Nation

Judge backs civil deal for oil disaster

NEW ORLEANS — A federal judge on Tuesday approved Transocean Ltd.’s agreement with the Justice Department to pay $1 billion in civil penalties for its role in the massive 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

US District Judge Carl Barbier said he found ‘‘no just reason for delay’’ approving the civil settlement.

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Last week, a different judge approved Transocean’s criminal settlement with the federal government. The Swiss-based company pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge and will pay an additional $400 million in criminal penalties.

Transocean owned the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, which exploded and sank over BP’s Macondo well in April 2010. The accident killed 11 rig workers and spawned the nation’s worst offshore oil spill.

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A trial scheduled to start Feb. 25 is designed to identify the causes of BP’s Macondo well blowout and assign percentages of fault to the companies involved.

BP, which leased the rig from Transocean and owned the blown-out well, reached a separate criminal settlement with the Justice Department. The London-based oil giant agreed to pay a record $4 billion in criminal penalties and pleaded guilty to manslaughter and other criminal charges related to the spill.

Civil claims against BP by the US government and five states haven’t been resolved.

Associated Press

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