The first public step in what may be a lengthy legal battle for the oil company linked to the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history gets under way Thursday.

A panel of judges will meet in the northwestern U.S. state of Idaho to examine the more than 200 complaints submitted against oil giant BP.

The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation is expected to consider whether to consolidate lawsuits against BP and where cases against the oil giant will be heard.

Meanwhile, incoming BP chief Robert Dudley tells National Public Radio that the ruptured oil well in the Gulf of Mexico may be permanently shut as early as Monday.

In the interview, Dudley also says BP's goal is to cap and "kill" the well early next week and then focus on cleaning up beaches along the Gulf coast.

BP announced Tuesday that Dudley would replace Tony Hayward as CEO.

It has now been over 100 days since an oil rig exploded in the Gulf, killing 11 workers and triggering the massive oil spill.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.