First phase of BP spill trial comes to an end

NEW ORLEANS Wed Apr 17, 2013 7:29pm EDT

Fire boat response crews battle the blazing remnants of the offshore oil rig Deepwater Horizon, off Louisiana, in this April 21, 2010 file handout image. REUTERS/U.S. Coast Guard/Files/Handout

Fire boat response crews battle the blazing remnants of the offshore oil rig Deepwater Horizon, off Louisiana, in this April 21, 2010 file handout image.

Credit: Reuters/U.S. Coast Guard/Files/Handout

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NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - The first phase of a trial to determine blame for BP Plc's 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill came to an end on Wednesday, with the judge allowing 80 days for the determination of findings and conclusions.

District Judge Carl Barbier said he would allow 60 days for the filing of briefs, and then 20 more days for reply briefs, as all the parties work toward a September start of the second phase of the trial.

The Deepwater Horizon disaster, on April 20, 2010, killed 11 people and caused the worst U.S. offshore spill.

The first phase was to determine blame between BP and its contractors - rig owner Transocean Ltd and cement provider Halliburton Co - as well as the level of negligence involved in the accident.

"I appreciate the fact that we were able to complete this trial in two months rather than the three months everyone projected when this began," Barbier told the court in New Orleans. "I know it's been demanding at times."

The first phase lasted just short of eight weeks.

(Reporting by Kathy Finn in New Orleans; Writing by Braden Reddall; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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