(Following Justice Department correction, makes clear Lloyds was Transocean's insurer, not BP's, in paragraph 2)
WASHINGTON - The Obama administration sued BP Plc and four other companies over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill on Wednesday, charging violations of U.S. environmental laws, in the opening salvo in what will likely be a lengthy legal battle.
The lawsuit seeks damages from BP, Transocean Ltd, Anadarko Petroleum Corp, Mitsui & Co Ltd unit MOEX and Transocean's insurer Lloyds of London for their roles in the worst offshore oil spill disaster in U.S. history.
The lawsuit did not name Halliburton, which did the cementing for the Macondo Well, or Cameron International which provided equipment for the well, but the Justice Department said the investigation was continuing and more defendants and charges could be added later.
We intend to prove that these defendants are responsible
for government removal costs, economic losses and environmental damages without limitation, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement.
Both our civil and criminal investigations continue.
The lawsuit charges the companies under the U.S. Clean Water Act and Oil Pollution Act but it does not request a specific amount of damages.
The Deepwater Horizon drilling rig blowout in April killed 11 workers and spilled about 4.9 million barrels of oil over several months. It fouled resort beaches and fishing grounds and led to hundreds of lawsuits over lost revenues and wages.
For every barrel of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico, there could be a fine of up to $4,300 if gross negligence is found. That would equal a fine of at least $21 billion. If no gross negligence is found, the fine could be up to $1,100 per barrel or almost $5.4 billion.
(Reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky and James Vicini; Editing by David Storey)