The number of claims filed in connection with BP's Gulf of Mexico oil spill have picked up in recent months and is expected to increase further as the submission deadline nears, according to a Reuters report.
"It certainly wouldn't surprise me that we'd break the 200,000 mark," Patrick Juneau, who heads the Deepwater Horizon Claims Administration, said.
As of 15 May, a total of 165,877 claims have been filed through Juneau's office and, of these, 40,970 are eligible for payment, with a total value exceeding $3.2bn (£2bn /€2.4bn).
This is in addition to the $6.6bn already awarded by Juneau's predecessor Kenneth Feinberg, under a claims process that pre-dates the settlement in April 2012.
Juneau expects the pace of filing to pick up as the 22 April deadline approaches. "It's happened in every case I've been involved in, and there's no reason to believe it would be otherwise in this case", he said.
The Louisiana attorney also expressed disappointment over BP's assertion that the rules of claims assessment are systematically abused. He noted that his office has denied about 16% of the claims filed and found no merit in the company's allegation that most of the submissions are based on "fictitious and inflated losses".
According to Juneau, the formula for calculating eligibility is designed to take subjective considerations out of the process and ensure decisions are based on quantifiable economic factors. BP's lawyers and plaintiffs were consulted before starting the claims process, Juneau told the news agency.
BP has already set aside $8.2bn to meet its compensation costs, but expects "further significant increase to the total estimated cost" if it loses an appeal already filed in a New Orleans court.
BP is reportedly planning to seek the help of British Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne to persuade the US government to intervene in the matter, as it believes the present compensation system will deliver "irreparable harm" to the company and push the firm into serious financial crisis if it is not swiftly reformed.
However, UK have officials revealed that David Cameron did not raise the issue with his US counterpart during his visit to the United States that ended on 15 May.
In 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the BP-owned Macondo Prospect, spilling millions of barrels of oil into the surrounding waters over a three-month period.
Eleven workers on the rig died in the explosion, which caused extensive damage to the fishing and tourism industries as well as environmental devastation.