Appeals court withdraws insurance ruling that favored BP in Gulf spill case

A federal appeals court Thursday withdrew a previous decision allowing British oil giant BP to tap insurance policies held by Swiss drilling contractor Transocean to help cover damages from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans said it needs the Texas Supreme Court to address several questions about Texas insurance law before it can render a final decision.

BP said in a statement that it believes “the 5th Circuit got it right in its previous unanimous opinion and think that result will be confirmed.” A Transocean spokesman declined to comment.

Previous ruling: Transocean chief disappointed with Gulf oil spill insurance ruling

On March 1, the court had ruled in BP’s favor, reversing a lower court ruling that held BP was not entitled to coverage under at least $750 million in policies held by Transocean in connection with its ownership of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig. BP has argued that it was considered an additional insured party under Transocean’s policies based on their Gulf drilling contract.

BP has sought access to the money to help cover its pollution-related liabilities deriving from the disaster.

BP owned the undersea well that blew out off the coast of Louisiana, triggering an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon that killed 11 workers. The resulting oil spill was the worst offshore spill in U.S. history.

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