Anadarko sees BP settlement with well partner as “positive step”

Anadarko Petroleum Corp., a 25 percent partner in BP’s Macondo well, said today it views BP’s nearly $1.1 billion settlement with smaller well partner Mitsui as a “positive step.”

But The Woodlands based oil and gas company gave no indication it was near to any kind of agreement of its own. “Our position remains consistent with our previous statements,” Anadarko spokesman John Christiansen said in an e-mail.

Anadarko has previously accused BP of gross negligence and willful misconduct in operating the Macondo well, which on April 20, 2010, blew out, killing 11 workers and launching the nation’s worst oil spill.

After the accident, both Anadarko and Mitsui & Co’s Moex Offshore LLC unit sued BP in federal court in New Orleans over economic losses from the disaster and said they weren’t responsible for damages and cleanup costs.

But under the agreement announced today, Mitsui agreed to pay BP $1.065 billion to settle claims.

Earlier this month, Anadarko CEO Jim Hackett said for the first time his company was “prepared to come to the table under the right circumstances” to resolve issues with BP.

Several analysts this morning said the deal implies lower liability risks for Anadarko, whose lawsuit is still pending.

Mitsui, which owned 10 percent of Macondo, could have faced more $4 billion of the the estimated $41.3 billion liability for the spill, but instead settled for much less, analysts with FBR Research noted.

Anadarko could have owed up to $10 billion, “however expectations tend to be closer to $2-5 billion based on our conversations with legal experts and investors,” FBR said. If a deal were reached on the same terms as Mitsui, then Anadarko would owe $2.65 billion.

At the very least, the Mitsui deal “makes it more likely that BP will get some cash out of Anadarko,” John Malone, analyst with Ticonderoga Securities, said in a morning note to investors.