BP fined $3bn to $5bn

 
Deepwater Horizon oil rig burning The explosion at the Deepwater Horizon oil rig killed 11 people.

I have learned that BP is set to pay fines and penalties of between $3bn and $5bn to settle the criminal case against it brought by the US Department of Justice in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster of 2010.

The settlement will be announced this afternoon in Washington by the Department of Justice.

It will be the biggest criminal penalty in US history.

However BP is thought to be relieved that it has reached a settlement, because the potential liability was unlimited - although the settlement involves the humiliation for the leading oil company of pleading guilty to criminal charges.

It is thought there will also be arrests of up to four BP engineers and technical staff.

Eleven people died in the initial Deepwater Horizon explosion, which then caused the biggest ever offshore oil spill, in the Gulf of Mexico.

BP has already spent many billions of dollars cleaning up the pollution and compensating victims.

The settlement with the DoJ is only for the criminal charges. BP faces years of civil litigation from the Department of Justice and individual states, as they seek damages relating to the spill.

UPDATE 13:35 GMT

My understanding is that the fine will be around $4bn, and it will be paid in instalments over a period of years.

 
Robert Peston, economics editor Article written by Robert Peston Robert Peston Economics editor

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 12.

    PLCs everywhere....
    you can never have enough engineers,
    chemical,safety,petroleum,drilling,risk.
    preferably chartered.
    BP ratio of managers to engineers was too low.
    and steady as she goes better than flat out.
    and don't reuse duff christmas trees to save money (although perhaps the contractor was guilty of this)
    also US legislation works in favour of US
    sometimes I wonder about UK judiciary....

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 11.

    Well, BP is getting shafted by Russia and the US...

    Curious as to how you get between £3 billion and £5 billion, ie what's a few 100 million here or there? or maybe even £4 billion?

    I wonder how this would have all transpired had this been a US company? BP must have not contributed enough to the right camapigns or lobby groups.

  • rate this
    +24

    Comment number 10.

    Union Carbide paid out under $500m for their Bhopal disaster, but then there were only 3787 immediate deaths and thousands more after the event...one law for US and another law for them...

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 9.

    Two things to remember:

    It's all funny money anyway.
    BP is a multinational.
    We will all pay in higher prices.

  • rate this
    +25

    Comment number 8.

    Great, now maybe our government can grow some balls and skim around $40bn off the top of a bunch of US companies like Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Starbucks et al. for their various tax evasion, and anti-competitive practices over the years.

    That way maybe America will learn that protectionism through abuse of courts is still protectionism and will result in a protectionist counter-response.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 7.

    A fine needs 2 be substantial 2 deter future 'abuses' esp. environmental. Yet, agree that there could b an argument since BP non-US - is this fine a national-interest issue? Yet, as with Amazon - these issues reflect growing tensions as globalisation destroys national boundaries & impacts on societies once cushioned from economics as cheap labour etc.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 6.

    Would be interesting to compare how much American companies are fined when they make mistakes around the world.
    However given the colossal damage done to the environment as well as people’s lives and livelihoods this is no more than they deserve.

  • rate this
    +24

    Comment number 5.

    The blow out preventer was worthless.

    The maker, Cameron, and Transocean Ltd. should pay this bill.

  • rate this
    +24

    Comment number 4.

    Just more demonstrations of the nastiness of the USA and its use of its power. From persecuting BP, to child hackers, or old businessmen. Now when will the USA contracting companies who actually committed the acts be fined more than BP? Won't hold my breath! Partial prejudiced justice.

  • rate this
    +23

    Comment number 3.

    Hmm... while I deplore the disaster I do wonder if an american company would face the same litigation: whether at home or abroad.

    How about we ask Amazon, Starbucks, Facebook, etc... they may know the answer?

  • rate this
    +21

    Comment number 2.

    Moral of the story? Don't do business in the US if you're a foreign company, as they'll just steal all your assets eventually.

    The fact they've received a record fine when US oil companies have been guilty of far more damaging spills (even if volume of spilt oil was lower, the ecological damage was much worse) really says it all. Record fine for a well below record damage incident.

  • rate this
    +12

    Comment number 1.

    BP must be wondering whether it would be better off never to have been involved in the US.

 

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