Halliburton: Gulf spill settlement talks have ‘slowed’

Oil field services firm Halliburton said Monday its settlement talks with victims of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill have “recently slowed” and it is unclear if a deal will ultimately be reached, as the company reported a nearly 8 percent drop in second-quarter profit.

Chief Financial Officer Mark McCollum said during the company’s quarterly earnings conference call with analysts and investors that BP’s aggressive challenge to the civil settlement it reached with private plaintiffs last year has added new “complexity” to Halliburton’s settlement talks.

He said that the company  believes a settlement is still in its best interest, but it is unclear if a settlement can be reached. Earlier this year, Halliburton had said settlement talks with private plaintiffs were in an advanced stage.

Two weeks: Gulf spill civil trial’s second phase delayed

The second phase of a civil trial over the disaster off Louisiana is set to begin Sept. 30. A federal judge in New Orleans, meanwhile, is weighing whether well owner BP, rig owner Transocean and cement contractor Halliburton were grossly negligent.

A gross negligence finding could result in billions of dollars in punitive damages for the three companies. McCollum said Halliburton may have to adjust its liability reserve fund upward or downward in the future, depending on how the ongoing litigation goes.