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BP to pay record fine for 2010 spill

Oil giant BP has agreed pay the biggest fine in US history and plead guilty to criminal misconduct in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, two-and-a-half years after that disaster that dumped untold millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

BP Plc will pay a $4.5 billion penalty and plead guilty to felony misconduct in the Deepwater Horizon disaster that caused the worst offshore oil spill in the country’s history, the company said on Thursday.


Disaster: The explosion at Deepwater Horizon oil rig cost billions of dollars in economic and environmental damage. File Pic/AFP

The company will also pay $525 million to settle securities claims with US regulators. In aggregate BP said it will pay $4.5 billion over six years for the various resolutions.

“All of us at BP deeply regret the tragic loss of life caused by the Deepwater Horizon accident as well as the impact of the spill on the Gulf coast region,” said Bob Dudley, BP’s chief executive.

“From the outset, we stepped up by responding to the spill, paying legitimate claims and funding restoration efforts in the Gulf. We apologise for our role in the accident, and as today’s resolution with the US government further reflects, we have accepted responsibility for our actions.”

BP chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg added that the resolution was in the best interests of BP and its shareholders, and allowed the company to vigorously defend itself against the remaining civil claims.

BP has agreed to plead guilty to: Eleven counts of misconduct or neglect of ships officers relating to the loss of 11 lives, one misdemeanour count under the Clean Water Act, one misdemeanour count under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and one felony count of obstruction of Congress.

The resolution is subject to US federal court approval.

The settlement is much bigger than the largest previous corporate criminal penalty assessed by the Department of Justice, the $1.2 billion fine imposed on drug maker Pfizer in 2009. The cost of BP’s spill far surpassed the Exxon Valdez spill off Alaska in 1989. Exxon ultimately settled with the US for $1 bn. 

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