NEW ORLEANS (
) -- The federal trial over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill has been delayed for one week to allow more time for settlement talks.
U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier said Sunday in a brief order that the delay was "for reasons of judicial efficiency and to allow the parties to make further progress in their settlement discussions," the
(BP - Get Report)
Web site, the U.K. energy giant and the Plaintiff's Steering Committee in the case confirmed the delay.
"BP and the PSC are working to reach agreement to fairly compensate people and businesses affected by the Deepwater Horizon accident and oil spill," the statement said, although it cautioned that there was no guarantee a settlement would be reached.
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BP has also held talks in recent days with the federal government and
reported, citing several anonymous sources close to the case.
The first phase of the complex trial -- now set to begin Monday, March 5 -- is intended to establish the causes of the April 2010 blowout on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and assign percentages of fault to the companies involved, the
BP owned the deepwater Macondo well, which is believed to have leaked more than 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf in the months following the blowout. But
owned the rig, and Halliburton was the cement contractor.
Federal probes have already determined the three companies made decisions that led to the U.S.'s worst offshore oil disaster.
Earlier during the weekend, BP CEO Bob Dudley
the company was prepared to fight a long court battle.
Shares of BP closed Friday down 28 cents at $46.99. Shares of Transocean ended the session up 12 cents at $50.73, while Halliburton's shares rose 30 cents to $38.51.