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The owners of the blown-out Macondo well cannot avoid federal fines for the 2010 oil spill by blaming another company's failed equipment, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.

The oil came from a well owned by BP and Anadarko Petroleum Corp., so they are liable, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said. It upheld a 2012 ruling by U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier, who has scheduled a trial in January to help decide how much the oil giant owes in federal Clean Water Act penalties.

"We hope the court's decision will be one more step toward reaching a just conclusion for the American people," U.S. Justice Department spokesman Wyn Hornbuckle said in an email.

Transocean Ltd., which owned the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and the blowout preventer, pleaded guilty last year to a misdemeanor Clean Water Act violation and agreed to pay a $1 billion fine.

Anadarko is reviewing Wednesday's ruling and its options, spokesman John Christiansen said in an email.

Loyola University law professor Blaine LeCesne said he doubts Anadarko will have to pay much, if anything, in Clean Water Act fines because its partnership gave BP complete control over how the well was drilled and run. In 2011, Anadarko agreed to pay BP $4 billion. BP said that payment would be part of its $20 billion fund to compensate people and businesses hurt by the spill.


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