UPDATE 3-Mitsui unit to pay $90 million over Gulf oil spill

Fri Feb 17, 2012 11:42pm GMT

* First government settlement related to Deepwater Horizon

* Largest penalty under U.S. Clean Water Act-Justice Dept

By Jeremy Pelofsky

WASHINGTON, Feb 17 (Reuters) - Mitsui & Co Ltd's MOEX Offshore agreed with the U.S. Justice Department to pay at least $90 million to settle some of its liability in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the first government settlement involving the BP Plc Macondo well.

MOEX will pay $70 million in civil penalties for violations of the Clean Water Act and spend at least $20 million on conservation projects in the Gulf states, the Justice Department said on Friday.

The settlement comes just 10 days before the civil trial starts in New Orleans to assign blame for the disaster, the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history. The accident, which led to almost 5 million barrels of oil spilling, killed 11 people aboard the drilling rig.

BP itself has set aside more than $40 billion to cover spill-related costs. The company has been trying to reach its own settlement with the Obama administration, but whether it can succeed by the Feb. 27 trial is still uncertain.

"We believe that all parties would like to settle before the trial date. However, we believe it is still not a given that all of the parties can meet and resolve the various issues," said Angie Sedita, a managing director of equity research at UBS.

Separately, BP and Schlumberger-owned drilling fluids specialist M-I Swaco agreed to dismiss Deepwater Horizon-related claims against each other, pending court approval.   Continued...

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