Everything is big in the oil business. Just look at BP’s (NYSE:BP) recent lawsuit against Halliburton (NYSE:HAL). In its claim, the British energy company wants to get full compensation for the clean-up costs for the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico (the disaster spewed about 4 million barrels of oil into the Gulf). Keep in mind that Halliburton provided cement services for the Deepwater Horizon well that failed catastrophically.
Already, BP has shelled out $21 billion. And the final tab could easily be over $40 billion.
Note, however, that even if BP ultimately prevails, it would certainly not get what it wants. Halliburton’s market cap is only $31 billion and it has about $2 billion in its bank account. In fact, Halliburton would likely file for Chapter 11 to avoid such a judgment. This is what Texaco did during the 1980s when it lost a $10.5 billion verdict (because of a botched buyout).
But don’t expect this result for Halliburton. In today’s trading, the stock price is down marginally. For the most part, Halliburton will likely need to make some type of payment — but not anything that would destroy the company.
Here’’s one thing that’s certain: The attorneys working on the case will have a good year.
Tom Taulli runs the InvestorPlace blog “IPOPlaybook,” a site dedicated to the hottest news and rumors about initial public offerings. He is also the author of “All About Short Selling” and “All About Commodities.” Follow him on Twitter at @ttaulli. As of this writing, he did not own a position in any of the aforementioned stocks.