April 20, 2011 / 10:41 PM / 9 years ago

BP sues blowout preventer maker over Gulf spill

NEW YORK (Reuters) - On the first anniversary of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, BP Plc (BP.L) sued Cameron International Corp CAM.N for negligence, because a blowout preventer made by Cameron failed to avert the catastrophe.

In a complaint filed Wednesday in the federal court in New Orleans, BP said Cameron should be ordered to pay its share of any liability the British company might face for the spill under a 1990 U.S. law governing oil pollution.

Eleven people died when the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded. About 4.9 million barrels, or more than 200 million gallons, of oil later flowed out of a subsurface BP well. BP has incurred tens of billions of dollars of liabilities from the disaster.

“The blowout preventer failed to work and perform the function it was designed and manufactured to perform — i.e., to secure the well,” BP said in the complaint. “The blowout preventer was flawed in design, and alternative designs existed that did not have these flaws.”

BP added in a statement on Wednesday that the company sued Cameron “to ensure that all parties involved in the Macondo well are appropriately held accountable for their roles in contributing to the Deepwater Horizon accident.”

BP asked U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier, who oversees national litigation over the spill, to order Houston-based Cameron to reimburse it for “all or a part” of its damages.

Cameron in an emailed statement did not address the substance of BP’s claims, and said Wednesday was a deadline for companies tied to the spill to file claims against each other.

In one such case, cruise operator Carnival Corp (CCL.N) filed claims against BP, Cameron, rig operator Transocean Ltd RIGN.VX and several other companies connected to the well to recover damages for added fuel and vessel cleaning costs, as well as lost revenue from decreased bookings.

A Norwegian testing company concluded in a report issued March 23 that the blowout preventer’s failure was caused by a stuck section of drill pipe that blocked cutting devices from shearing and sealing the leaking well.

That finding, in a report commissioned by the U.S. Interior Department and U.S. Coast Guard, is separate from earlier conclusions by a White House commission that oil industry and regulatory missteps set into motion events that led to the biggest offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

BP last June created a $20 billion compensation fund for spill victims including businesses, fishermen and property owners, with incentives for people who agree not to sue the company. Kenneth Feinberg, who oversees the fund, in an interview said it is “working as intended.”

The case is In re: Oil Spill by the Oil Rig “Deepwater Horizon” in the Gulf of Mexico, on April 20, 2010, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, No. 10-md-02179.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York and Jeremy Pelofsky in Washington, D.C.; Additional reporting by Moira Herbst in New York and Kristen Hays; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Sofina Mirza-Reid

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