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BP chief executive Bob Dudley said the company is able to fight a lengthy court battle over the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Dudley, who took control of BP in October 2012 after former chief executive Tony Hayward resigned amid criticism over the way he had handled the oil spill, told the Sunday Telegraph that BP can continue to function even if the court case that begins in New Orleans today continues for years.

"We have to remember we are a business that invests in decade-long cycles," he said.

"For the vast majority of people now at BP, the company is back on its feet and it is starting to move forward," he said.

BP has set aside US$40 billion to deal with fines and associated costs of the April 20, 2010 blowout of BP's deepwater Macondo well which killed 11 workers and injured 17. The burning drilling rig Deepwater Horizon toppled and sank to the Gulf floor, where it sits today.

It took engineers 85 days to permanently cap the well.

By then, more than 750 million litres of oil leaked from the well and had covered much of the northern half of the Gulf of Mexico endangering fisheries, killing marine life and shutting down offshore oil drilling operations.

President Barack Obama called the BP spill "the worst environmental disaster the nation has ever faced."

Dudley said BP had improved safety standards on its rigs, five of which are working again in the Gulf of Mexico, and that the company was still committed to deepwater drilling.

"We had a choice whether or not to back away from the offshore industry and the deep water industry but we have a lot of great strengths in this area and so, rather than move away, we have gone in with even more commitment, more time and more people, more expertise," he said.

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