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Oil Spill

WilmerHale Lawyer Helped BP Negotiate a Few Concessions in White House Talks

Posted Jun 21, 2010 7:18 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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WilmerHale partner Jamie Gorelick helped BP win some concessions in preliminary talks with White House lawyers and at the final well-publicized meeting in which the company agreed to pay $20 billion into an oil-spill compensation fund.

Gorelick and White House lawyers had already discussed the $20 billion figure before the meeting between top BP officials and President Obama, the Wall Street Journal reports. Preliminary talks spanned five days, and included a half dozen people on both sides, including Attorney General Thomas Perrelli and White House counsel Robert Bauer, the story says.

Gorelick is a former general counsel for the Defense Department and deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration. The Washington Post says her experience “proved critical in coaching the company during tense negotiations with President Obama.”

The $20 billion fund will compensate victims such as fishermen and hotel workers who lost wages because of the spill and will pay for cleanup costs, the Wall Street Journal reports. But a separate $100 million fund to compensate oil workers who are affected by a White House moratorium on drilling in the Gulf “won't come close to covering collateral damage,” the newspaper says. The drilling industry estimates lost wages attributable to the moratorium may be as high as $330 million a month, according to the story.

BP was able to structure the deal to limit claims attributable to the moratorium after successfully arguing that it shouldn’t be liable for a decision of the president, the Wall Street Journal says. It also was successful in rebuffing demands that it pay to restore the Gulf to conditions better than before the oil spill.

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