updated 1/17/2007 1:59:25 AM ET 2007-01-17T06:59:25

Exxon Mobil Corp. is asking a federal appeals court to reconsider its December decision demanding the oil giant pay $2.5 billion to compensate thousands of fishermen and other Alaskans for the 1989 Valdez tanker oil spill.

The disaster, the worst oil spill in U.S. history, soiled 1,500 miles of Alaskan coastline.

An Anchorage jury had ordered the company to pay $5 billion in punitive damages, which are meant to punish a company for misconduct. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in the third time it heard one of the nation's longest running cases, cut the award in half, saying $2.5 billion was enough punishment.

Late Friday, the company asked the San Francisco-based appeals court to rehear the case with the same three judges or to empanel a 15-judge panel to hear it.

Irving, Texas-based Exxon maintains it should have to pay no more than $25 million because, among other things, it has spent more than $3 billion to settle federal and state lawsuits and to clean the Prince William Sound area.

The court has no deadline to answer Exxon's request.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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