BP: Rig partner liable for own punitive damages

By HARRY R. WEBER | December 21, 2011 | 10:00 PM EST

BP wants to shield itself from having to compensate Halliburton for punitive damages, fines and penalties the cement contractor may face for its role in the deadly 2010 rig explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Billions of dollars are potentially at stake as a federal trial scheduled for February approaches. The civil trial is being held to assign shares of fault to the companies involved in the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history and determine whether rig owner Transocean can limit what it pays those making claims under maritime law.

BP PLC says in court papers Wednesday the law and its contract with Halliburton don't permit BP being held responsible for covering punitive damages ultimately faced by Halliburton.

The explosion off Louisiana killed 11 rig workers.