On March 10, 2016, Judge Carl Barbier dismissed certain claims against BP in its capacity as the responsible party under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (“OPA”), 33 U.S.C. § 2702(a) for a claimant’s economic loss that resulted from the moratorium on offshore drilling the United States government imposed in the aftermath of the Macondo well blowout and oil spill.
The Court reasoned that “the ‘OPA Test Case Plaintiffs’ losses does not result from the discharge or substantial threat of discharge of oil from the Macondo well; they resulted from the perceived threat (whether substantial or not) of discharge from other wells.” As a result, these economic losses were not “due to” the injury, destruction or loss of property or natural resources that “resulted from” the discharge or threatened discharge of oil from the Macondo well. See §§ 2702(a) and 2702(b)(2)(e).
Obviously, this is a significant decision to the offshore marine and energy industry because, if upheld, it precludes any party from asserting what are known as “Moratorium” claims against BP on the basis that they lost business when the United States government imposed the moratorium on offshore oil and gas exploration and production in the wake of the Macondo well blowout.
The case is In Re Oil Spill by the Oil Rig “Deepwater Horizon” on the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010, MDL 2179.