The civil trial of the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry is set to begin on Monday in New Orleans in front of a federal judge, but without a jury. Nearly three years have passed since Transocean’s (NYSE:RIG) Deepwater Horizon rig, under contract with BP (NYSE:BP), experienced a surge of gas that killed 11 workers and spewed 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
While the case could potentially take several months to resolve, as Reuters reported, several legal experts believe that a resolution with the U.S. Department of Justice could end the lawsuit as well. Sources told the publication that early testimony will likely establish the tone for any settlement negotiations, depending on the evidence presented.
Those involved in the trial include the well owner BP, rig owner Transocean, and cement services provider Halliburton (NYSE:HAL). They will face the Justice Department, several Gulf Coast states, and other plaintiffs.
In the past, BP has often settled civil cases before or during the trial. Four lawsuits were launched as the result of an explosion at its Texas City refinery, which killed 15 people, and all of the cases were settled with penalties amounting to $3.1 billion…