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BP spill trial delayed until February 2013

HOUSTON, Oct 26 (Reuters) - A federal judge on Friday delayed until February 2013 the start of a massive trial to determine liability from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, citing tourist events that will keep New Orleans' hotels booked.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans, who is presiding over a massive three-part hearing to decide liability for BP Plc.'s 2010 Gulf of Mexico spill, said the trial will begin on Feb. 25, 2013. That trial, which had been delayed by nearly a year already due to a pending $7.8 billion settlement with private plaintiffs, had been set to get underway on Jan. 14.

At a hearing on Friday, Barbier cited lodging difficulties arising from two huge events to be hosted in New Orleans in early 2013 -- the NFL's Super Bowl on Feb. 3, and the Mardi Gras festival set for Feb. 12.

Barbier declined to delay a hearing set for Nov. 8 on a settlement BP reached with private plaintiffs in March for about $7.8 billion.

The April 20, 2010, explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon killed 11 rig workers and unleashed a torrent of oil from the Macondo well. About 4.9 million barrels of oil spewed into the Gulf of Mexico over 87 straight days.

That oil fouled the shorelines of four Gulf Coast states and eclipsed the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska in severity.