Fiji Time: 12:34 PM on Tuesday 28 April

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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Oil spill saga

BP is set to begin a civil trial over the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill that became the US's worst environmental disaster. The UK oil giant will be pitted against the US states that were affected by the spill and the Department of Justice. It faces the biggest civil fine in history. It comes after BP agreed in November to pay $8.02billion to settle criminal charges relating to the spill. The trial is to be held in New Orleans. The trial will determine the causes of the spill, and assign responsibility to the parties involved, including BP, contractor Halliburton, rig operator Transocean, and Cameron, which manufactured the blowout preventer meant to stop oil leaks. The non-jury trial will unfold in two phases. The first, beginning on Monday, will focus on the cause of the April 20, 2010 explosion that claimed the lives of 11 men and released an estimated four million barrels of oil into the Gulf over 84 days.

Market zigzag

MARKETS have swung sharply in anticipation of the outcome of Italy's parliamentary elections. Italy's bond and stock markets, bank shares and the euro rallied after exit polls suggested the centre-left would win a lower house majority. But they lost all their gains in late trading after early count data gave Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right party the lead in the Italian Senate. At the time, markets had lost confidence in his ability to push through spending cuts and difficult labour market reforms deemed necessary to revive the country's economy.

Foreign workers

SINGAPORE has said it will impose more limits on numbers of foreign workers and has called upon businesses to help upgrade skills of the local workforce. The limits include more levies on firms that employ low-skilled foreign workers, a cut in foreign worker quotas and stricter qualification guidelines. Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam announced the moves as he unveiled the budget for 2013. The foreign workers debate has become a hot political issue in Singapore. Criticism of Singapore's immigration policy has become more vocal recently, with many locals blaming it for a rise in property prices and living costs. Mr Shanmugaratnam said while the foreign worker inflow had been "too high" last year, a sharp reduction was not the best way to go.

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