* Anadarko accused of misleading investors over Gulf spill
* Many accusations don't support fraud claims - judge
* Judge had let separate lawsuit go forward against BP
By Jonathan Stempel
July 15 A federal judge ordered Anadarko
Petroleum Corp, which owned part of the blown out well
at the center of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, to face a
lawsuit accusing it of defrauding shareholders, but
significantly narrowed the plaintiffs' case.
U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison in Houston said that while
shareholders had highlighted 28 allegedly misleading statements
attributable to Anadarko, they were entitled to sue over only a
single "isolated" statement concerning the Macondo well, the
majority of which was owned by BP Plc.
That statement was made by Anadarko senior vice president
Robert Daniels on a May 4, 2010, earnings conference call, two
weeks after the blowout, when he said Anadarko had not been
involved in the design of or procedures at the well.
"The well design and procedures, operations procedures
were all done before we actually farmed in," he told a caller,
according to Ellison's decision on Monday. "We were not involved
in that at all on this well."
Shareholders had accused Anadarko of mismanaging its 25
percent stake in the Macondo well, and understating its ability
to manage risk and handle liabilities.
Ellison said one could make a "compelling" inference that
Daniels "simply misspoke" and was not trying to blunt the impact
of the spill on Anadarko's share price, but that his directness
could offer a "cogent and compelling" inference to the contrary.
In rejecting other allegations, Ellison concluded that many
alleged misleading statements were too general or "squishy" to
provide a basis for securities fraud claims against the
Houston-based oil and gas exploration company.
Anadarko spokesman John Christiansen said the company was
reviewing the decision. It had sought to dismiss the lawsuit.
Gerald Silk, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, did not
immediately respond to a request for comment.
The lead plaintiffs are the Pension Trust Fund for Operating
Engineers in Alameda, California, and the Employees' Retirement
System of the Government of the Virgin Islands.
In February 2012, Ellison allowed BP shareholders to pursue
their own civil fraud lawsuit against that company, but limited
the case to investors who had bought BP's American depositary
receipts on U.S. exchanges. BP has denied fraud.
The explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and
Macondo well blowout killed 11 people.
The case is In re: Anadarko Petroleum Corp Class Action
Litigation, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas, No.