BP agrees $18.7bn Deepwater Horizon penalty settlement

San Francisco: More than five years since the Deepwater Horizon disaster, BP on Thursday agreed to pay nearly $19bn in penalties to five coastal states and the federal government.

By settling on the $18.7bn price tag the British oil firm brought to an end years of legal wrangling over an appropriate amount for the environmental and economic damage caused by the biggest offshore oil spill the US has known.

Thursday’s sum is the largest corporate settlement with a single entity in US history.

The agreement adds to the $43.8 billion that BP had previously set aside for criminal and civil penalties and cleanup costs. The company said its total pre-tax charge for the spill now stands at $53.8 billion.

The Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded catastrophically on April 20 2010, claiming the lives of 11 men and leaving a gushing oil spew that could not be capped for 87 days.

BP stood accused of gross negligence and incompetence as the calamity unfolded.

Under this agreement with the Department of Justice and the five states BP will pay at least $12.8 billion for Clean Water Act fines and natural resource damages, plus $4.9 billion to states.

Those states, all with Gulf of Mexico coastlines, are Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Florida.

This new settlement heads off any separate cases those states were bringing and pre-empts a federal judge who was preparing to rule on how much BP owed in federal Clean Water Act penalties.

The judge had already found that 3.19 million barrels of oil – nearly 134 million gallons – poured into the Gulf.

Donal Scully

With 28 years experience writing and editing for newspapers in the UK and Hong Kong, Donal is now based in California from where he covers the Americas for Splash as well as ensuring the site is loaded through the Western Hemisphere timezone.
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