BP oil spill settlement looming for potentially landmark deal

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NEW ORLEANS — On the cusp of trial over the catastrophic 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, phalanxes of lawyers, executives and public officials have spent 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.
Trial is set for Monday, and by Friday, no deal had been reached, several people familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. The biggest stumbling block appeared to be the sheer size and sprawling uncertainty over the unprecedented dollar amounts at stake.

Financial analysts estimate BP’s potential settlement payout at $15 billion to roughly $30 billion. The company itself estimated it would cost about $41 billion in the weeks after the explosion to account for all of its costs, including cleanup, compensating businesses, and paying fines and ecological damage.