British oil giant BP on Friday won approval from a US federal judge of a US$7.8 billion settlement with people and businesses who lost money and property due to the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Although the deal addresses the bulk of private claims over the Deepwater Horizon oil rig and the oil spill that resulted from its explosion, it does not affect an anticipated tens of billions of dollars in fines and claims from the US government and impacted coastal states and local governments.
Nor does it resolve suits filed by shareholders or others seeking compensation because of a drilling moratorium imposed after the worst environmental disaster in US history. The incident also killed 11 workers.
US district judge Carl Barbier gave his final approval to the settlement in a 125-page ruling. He had preliminarily approved the accord in May.
"None of the objections, whether filed on the objections docket or elsewhere, have shown the settlement to be anything other than fair, reasonable and adequate," Mr Barbier wrote.
He said the settlement agreement "provides compensation to class members that appears sufficient" to cover their losses from the spill.
Both BP and the plaintiff's attorneys welcomed the approval of a deal that would settle nearly 100,000 claims from fishermen and others affected by the disaster.
BP hailed the decision, saying it resolved "the substantial majority of legitimate economic loss and property damage claims stemming from the Deepwater Horizon accident."
"We believe the settlement, which avoids years of lengthy litigation, is good for the people, businesses and communities of the Gulf and is in the best interests of BP's stakeholders," the company added.
BP has said the settlement is not expected to result in any increase of the $37.2bn charge it posted to cover the cost of the massive spill that blackened beaches in five US states and devastated the Gulf Coast's tourism and fishing industries.
It took 87 days to cap BP's runaway well 1,500 metres below the water surface off the coast of Louisiana as it spewed some 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.