BP and the US Justice Department were reported to have made an effort on Sunday to strike a last-minute settlement to avoid the trial over the devastating Deepwater Horizon disaster of 2010, which began on Monday, in New Orleans.

The Justice Department and Gulf states agreed over the weekend to offer BP a $16bn agreement to settle civil claims related to the deadly oil rig accident, which killed 11 people and led to the largest oil spill in US history, reported theguardian.

BP head of US communications Geoff Morrell was quoted by the newspaper as saying, "BP doesn’t talk about possible offers or negotiations, but I can tell you we are ready for trial and looking forward to the opportunity to present our case starting Monday."

In a press statement released on 19 February 2013, BP said that it "will vigorously defend against gross negligence allegations".

Last week, discussions between the states, the Justice Department and BP failed, when the states opposed to the size of any deal and its structure.

The trial, which is anticipated to be one of the biggest in decades, will commence with 400 minutes of opening arguments from 11 teams of lawyers.

The proceeding will be the first of two phases the court has decided for the trial, which will concentrate on the causes of the Deepwater Horizon accident, who should be held responsible and to what degree.

In 2012, the US said in a court filing that BP had a "culture of corporate recklessness" and had acted with "gross negligence or willful misconduct".

If gross negligence is proved against BP, the maximum civil penalty possible under the clean water act will increase from $1,100 per barrel spilled through ordinary negligence to $4,300 per barrel.