Oil gushed from the Macondo well thousands of feet below the surface for most of the summer of 2010 before crews were finally able to control the spill. Fishing lanes were closed and the coastal tourism sector, still recovering from Hurricane Katrina, suffered dearly. Eleven rig workers were killed.
A federal report determined a faulty cement barrier was at least one of the underlying causes of the accident. In October, the government outlined seven different violations for operator BP, four for rig-owner Transocean and four for Halliburton, which worked on the cement barrier. BP sued Halliburton, which said it was looking forward to court.
Ecuadorian and U.S. courts were involved in a case that more or less started in the 1970s, depending on which part you examine, when Chevron was accused of dumping billions of gallons of untreated wastewater into the rainforest. They even made a movie out of it! Both sides are locked in a legal mess that is still in some lower court somewhere hung up on who knows what. While that's the first time an indigenous group managed to sue a giant corporation like Chevron, some legal aspects of the case that began some 40 years ago are still locked in court somewhere and there's no end in sight.
During federal investigations into the 2010 oil spill, all three companies collectively blamed each other for the disaster that prompted Hayward to complain he wanted his life back. BP is unlikely to abandon trying to spread the financial liability anytime soon. If 30,000 Ecuadorians backed by the slick and oh-so persistent Amazon Watch can keep Chevron tied up in court for this long, one can only imagine how long the Deepwater Horizon mess will linger in the courts.
And where's BP now? Why it's busy planning to drill in the Gulf of Mexico, that's where.
By. Daniel J. Graeber of Oilprice.com