BP has added two new drilling rigs to its offshore Gulf of Mexico operations, the company announced Tuesday, bringing the company’s total number of Gulf rigs to nine. It is now the largest fleet BP has ever had in the region.
The company’s announcement comes just three and a half years after the Deepwater Horizon explosion, which killed 11 crewmen and resulted in the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history.
“The addition of these two new rigs reflects the vital importance of the deepwater Gulf of Mexico to the future of BP,” Richard Morrison, Regional President of BP’s Gulf of Mexico business said in a statement. “It also clearly demonstrates BP’s commitment to the American economy and U.S. energy security.”
The company on Monday also began publishing a mass of environmental data collected from the Gulf since 2010, part of a campaign to rebuild public trust.
Yet effects from the Deepwater Horizon spill are still being felt throughout the country. A September study released by the American Journal of Medicine found that the people who worked to clean up the Gulf of Mexico after the spill are at an increased risk of getting cancer, leukemia, and a host of other illnesses. BP is also continuing to fight against claimants from the spill in court, insisting that victims are taking “money they don’t deserve.”
BP is currently arguing before the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals that it should redo a $7.8 billion settlement for businesses that lost revenue because of the disaster. The company, according to a report in Law360, is arguing that the terms of the settlement fail to require businesses to show a connection between their losses and the oil spill itself, making it so companies that were not actually harmed can reap benefits from the settlement unchecked.
A recent report in the Washington Post showed that the claims process for those injured by the spill has been stalled. 63,000 claims have been filed, the report said, but only 68 percent of those have been processed. Approximately $3.7 billion has already been paid to more than 38,000 people and businesses, and tens of thousands more claims could be filed in the coming months.
BP currently holds more oil leases in the Gulf than any other driller, and in August, the company filed a lawsuit to reopen remaining federal oil and gas leases.