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BP plc Wins Spill Compensation Legal Ruling

The shares of BP (LSE: BP) (NYSE: BP.US) gained 5p to 438p during early trade this morning after a US court yesterday ruled in favour of the oil group to limit compensation claims following the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The FTSE 100 member said it was “extremely pleased” that the Fifth Circuit appeals court in New Orleans had overturned a previous court decision, which the company said had encouraged businesses to claim for fictitious losses from the spill.

BP said the Fifth Circuit appeals court had ordered the lower District Court to “expeditiously craft” an injunction that stays payments to claimants who did not suffer “actual injury traceable to loss from the Deepwater Horizon accident” until the matter is “fully heard and decided through the judicial process“.

BP had originally estimated the settlement for such cases would cost $7.8bn, but lifted that projection to $9.6bn within July’s second-quarter results.

Since last year, the oil group had argued the process and calculations adopted by the District Court-appointed administrator for compensation claims had been too lax and generous.

The Fifth Circuit appeals court said yesterday that the administrator’s methods were “completely disconnected from any reasonable understanding of calculation of damage“.

BP’s second-quarter results revealed a total of $42.4bn had been charged to the group’s accounts to cover clean-up costs, fines and compensation payments related to the spill.

Those results also showed a $0.09 a share quarterly dividend, which currently equates to a 22.2p per share full-year payout and a possible dividend income of roughly 5%.

Of course, whether that yield, yesterday's court ruling and the general prospects for the oil sector all currently combine to make BP a 'buy' right now is something only you can decide.

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> Maynard does not own any share mentioned in this article.