BP Plc has billions of dollars in the balance as it asks a U.S. appeals court to reject a claims administrator's interpretation of the company's partial settlement over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
The company contends the administrator, Patrick Juneau, is approving millions of dollars in "fictitious" payments for business losses based on what BP believes is a flawed interpretation of the agreement reached with victims' lawyers in 2012. These interpretations have already prompted the company to add hundreds of millions of dollars to the estimated $7.8 billion cost of the settlement and may force it to pay billions of dollars more than expected, BP said in court papers.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans is scheduled today to hear BP's arguments seeking to reverse a lower-court ruling and rein in Juneau.
"BP feels aggrieved and this is their last shot," said Peter Hutton, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets in London. "If they can't get what they see as due process, it will have implications for their confidence doing business in the States."
U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans in March ruled that Juneau is interpreting the contract properly. In April he dismissed BP's lawsuit against Juneau and rejected a request for an injunction barring certain payments while the company appealed his March order.
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