Gulf of Mexico oil spill

Oil and Gas major BP has filed a petition with US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia seeking review of a lower court's decision on compensation payments related to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill and stop payments to claimants while litigation continues.

Earlier, the New Orleans-based 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that BP should continue to make payments to the affected parties, lifting an injunction on payments.

In the latest filing, BP lawyers note that if the payments are not blocked, "countless awards totalling potentially hundreds of millions of dollars will be irreparably scattered to claimants that suffered no injury traceable to BP's conduct".

Scalia, who is taking care of emergency applications arising from the 5th Circuit, can either act on BP's request himself or refer the case to the nine-member court as a whole.

The appeals court had earlier denied BP's request for rehearing and authorised payments on business economic loss claims. The company then said it would appeal the decision in the Supreme Court.

"The dissenting opinions emphasise that the issues raised by BP 'present questions of exceptional importance', reflect a deep divide in approaches among the federal appellate courts, and merit Supreme Court review," the company said in a statement.

BP noted that the US constitution and established class action law exclude "certification of a class that includes substantial numbers of claimants who were not harmed by the spill".

In 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the BP-owned Macondo Prospect, which spilled oil into the surrounding Gulf of Mexico waters over a three- month period.

Eleven workers on the rig died in the explosion and environmental devastation slicked its way through the waters, poisoning marine life as well as a number of clean-up workers and Gulf of Mexico residents.

BP has been hit by a number of pieces of civil and criminal litigation from people and businesses affected by the spill.

The company's cumulative total costs from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico spill hit $42.7bn (£25.5bn, €31.4bn) at the end of 2013, leading to a significant decline in the company's full-year profit.

The company is looking to limit costs related to the spill.