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BP Delays Gulf Spill Trial For Week

LONDON -(Dow Jones)- BP PLC (BP, BP.LN) has postponed the start of a civil trial to apportion blame for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill for a week, as the U.K oil major attempts to reach a settlement deal with individuals and businesses affected by the disaster. A consolidated trial that groups together plaintiffs, including the U.S. Department of Justice, will now begin on March 5, BP said in a statement. BP said the adjournment was to allow its lawyers and those acting on behalf of the multiple litigants affected by the spill more time to try and come to an agreement. The company said earlier this month that it had set aside just over $6 billion to cover compensation claims from fisherman and Gulf coast businesses affected by the spill. BP also faces fines from the DOJ, which could ultimately be as high as $20 billion. BP said there was no guarantee that the discussions will lead to a settlement deal. The trial, originally due to begin Feb. 27, will apportion blame and liability for an explosion aboard a BP-operated drilling rig, the Deepwater Horizon, which killed 11 men and set off the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history. -By Alexis Flynn, Dow Jones Newswires, +44 207 842 9471, alexis.flynn@dowjones.com

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