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A U.S. court Monday order the federal government to pay nearly $840,000 to help cover costs for plaintiffs who took BP to trial over the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon spill.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Sally Shushan ruled that the government must pay $839,582 for the outstanding deposition and trial expenses from Phase II of the BP trial because the government partnered with the plaintiffs’ steering committee for that phase, Law360 said.

The first phase of the trial ended in April 2013 and was limited to allocating blame for the accident among BP, Switzerland-based drilling contractor Transocean and Houston-based oilfield services company Halliburton.

The amount owed by the government is half of the more than $1.67 million in expenses that were tentatively allotted to the steering committee.

The second phase of the trial will determine how large the spill was. The second phase took place in October but a ruling has not been issued yet.

The third phase of the trial will determine penalties.

BP faces up to $18 billion in penalties if it is found grossly negligent and the court agrees with the government’s estimate of the spill size.

The government said that the accident spilled 4.2 million barrels of oil or about 176 million gallons.

BP estimated that 2.45 million barrels, or a about 100 million gallons, were spilled during the accident.

BP’s estimate would limit its fines to $10.5 billion.


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