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BP oil spill settlement offers surpass $2 billion mark
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BP oil spill settlement offers surpass $2 billion mark

More than $2 billion in settlement payments have been offered to businesses and individuals who suffered losses as a result of BP's Gulf of Mexico oil spill, according to a federal court filing by the Lafayette lawyer in charge of the claims process.

Of that figure, nearly $1.43 billion has been paid to 19,530 people who filed claims, said Patrick Juneau, the court-appointed supervisor overseeing the settlement, which covers economic and property damages. The information is in a status report filed Feb. 11 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. An additional 2,270 claimants have accepted their settlement offer, putting nearly $383 million in the pipeline, the filing said.

Juneau's compensation program picks up where Kenneth Feinberg's Gulf Coast Claims Facility left off. That operation paid claims on behalf of settlement using money from a $20 billion fund, which was set aside to help those affected while lawyers negotiated the settlement.

The $1.43 billion paid out so far is in addition to about $400 million in claims that were in the queue when Juneau took over from Feinberg last March. BP has estimated that it will pay $7.8 billion to resolve more than 100,000 damage claims stemming from the spill.

Out of 138,628 overall claims for losses submitted through Monday (Feb. 11), Louisiana residents accounted for 38,525, second to Florida, at 45,843, according to figures released by Juneau.

Since the last status report was filed in early January, the deadline for commercial fishing vessel owners and others to join a $2.3 billion settlement that covers seafood-related losses passed Jan. 22. The deal offered payments that were five times the annual average industry revenue for 2007, 2008 and 2009, BP lawyers have said.

The deadline for all other claims is April 22, 2014.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier, who gave preliminary approval to the settlement in May, allowed Juneau to begin paying claimants last June, even though the final settlement had not been approved by the court. That occurred in December.

BP's Macondo well erupted in April 2010, killing 11 rig workers and causing one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history.

Juneau has opened centers across the Gulf Coast to assist potential claimants. The court filing said the centers experienced an uptick in calls last month as the deadline for a seafood-related claims neared. The centers averaged more than 2,750 calls each week, according to the report.

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