NEW ORLEANS – As the second week of the BP oil spill trial gets off to a start the court is preparing to see a different type of testimony than in the first week’s court proceedings.
The first week of phase one of the trial heard opening statements from the attorneys general of Louisiana and Alabama, a representative of the plaintiff’s steering committee and BP’s defense.
The court also saw expert testimony from engineers who said BP cut corners in safety practices and BP executives who claimed they followed necessary safety procedures despite slashing budgets for oil drilling operations while at the same time experiencing increased production. In addition, representatives from rig owners Transocean and sub-contractor Halliburton took the stand to defend their companies’ role in the spill.
This week the court is expected to hear testimony from those who were aboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig when it exploded killing 11 rig workers and injuring many others and beginning the spill that eventually leaked an estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil in the largest oil spill ever recorded.
Despite a continuation of the trial early last year and an extended attempt to settle the case BP opted to go to trial with the hope of avoiding a finding of gross negligence that could end with a potential penalty of $17 billion in environmental fines.
Analysts have speculated that even though the trial has begun an attempt to settle the case is ongoing.
In phase one of the trial BP is attempting to avoid a finding of gross negligence by showing the rig’s failure, which began the spill, was due to a faulty cement job by rig operator Transocean and subcontractor Halliburton who should be held equally responsible for the spill.
Phase two of the trial is set for September and will focus on the government’s estimate of the amount of oil that leaked into the Gulf, which BP claims is faulty and will calculate into the ultimate fine assessed in the case.
All trial proceedings are taking place without a jury and are being overseen by U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier who will ultimately assess any penalty.