Fourteen months after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill started, BP (NYSE: BP) and Transocean (NYSE: RIG) are still arguing publicly about who is at fault. Like a quarrel between third-graders, the two companies are pointing fingers at each other, saying, "He did it." No one wants to take full responsibility, and Transocean would just as soon make sure the disaster remains known as the "BP Oil Spill."

To be fair, BP was not the only company involved in the Deepwater Horizon accident, and it won't be paying the full bill for cleanup efforts. It just has the deepest pockets and the biggest bull's-eye for detractors and companies that were once partners.

Transocean and Halliburton (NYSE: HAL), which cemented the well, have claimed they have no fault in the disaster, putting all the blame on BP. Twenty-five percent owner Anadarko Petroleum (NYSE: APC) has also taken the "it wasn't us" approach. But some partners have stepped up to the plate, paying a portion of the damages.

Paying up and moving on
Weatherford International
(NYSE: WFT), which provided pressure-control valves and other equipment, agreed to pay $75 million toward private claims to protect it from lawsuits. A similar accord was made with MOEX Offshore, which owned 10% of the lease, when it agreed to pay $1.1 billion for cleanup efforts. The funds, which will be added to BP's $20 billion relief fund, won't protect the companies from punitive damages or penalties from the government, but it does provide some relief from liability uncertainty.

The answer to whether Transocean, Halliburton, and Anadarko Petroleum have financial responsibilities looks like it may be decided in court. All three companies claim they did nothing wrong and have no responsibility, putting the entire blame on BP.

The final ruling for Transocean could show what kind of responsibility rig owners like SeaDrill (NYSE: SDRL) and DryShips (Nasdaq: DRYS) have in drilling operations going forward. Transocean's internal investigation into the spill, biased as it may be, backs up the company's assertions. Now it'll likely be up to independent investigators to decide if that is indeed true.

Foolish bottom line
A cloud of uncertainty will hang over these companies until a final answer is reached. Weatherford and MOEX can move on to bigger and better things, while Transocean is left pointing fingers at BP. It may be right, it may be wrong, but I wish these companies would sit down and resolve their differences. Bringing up the ghosts of oil spills past doesn't help anyone in the drilling industry, and doesn't endear you to partners needed in the future.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.