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On April 20, 2010 the offshore drilling vessel Deepwater Horizon experienced an explosion and fire that ultimately resulted in the rig sinking in approximately 5000 feet of water. 126 personnel were on the rig at the time of the disaster. Of those, 11 were killed and 17 were injured.

BP leased the Deepwater Horizen and has been designated as the "Responsible Party" under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA) which was enacted in response to the Exxon Valdez grounding and spill in Alaska. The OPA establishes oil spill liability and compensation requirements.

As of August 3rd, 2010 BP says it has made 93,000 payments totaling $277,000,000 for an average claim payment of $2,978.49. Most of these claims are "interim claims" for loss of income, wages, etc. rather than for physical damages. However, the claims process is about to undergo significant changes.

On June 16th, 2010, BP and President Obama announced that BP had agreed to place $20 Billion into a new claims fund that would be administered by "Claims Czar" Ken Feinberg who handled the 9/11 claims fund. Feinberg is to establish an "independent" and "impartial" process for administering claims which will replace the OPA/BP Claims process sometime in August, 2010.

Once the new claims process is set out, future posts on this blog will discuss it in detail.

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