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.


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

    Comment number 92.


    9/11 is hugely relevant as it was the day the US realised they didn't exist in isolation. A terrible loss of innocent lives.

    Let's face it capitalism in it's current form (am not arguing against capitalism per se) has been perpetuated by an eternal pursuit of growth upon unsustainable growth which emanates from the CoL and Wall Street.

    BP/US firms etc are feathers in the wind to bankers

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.


    You need to learn a little history - the vast majority of slaves were when the US didn't exist and it was a British colony.

    Whereas the British Empire was a case of living parasitically off the resources and peoples of the Indian subcontinent for 3 centuries.

  • rate this

    Comment number 90.

    The Deepwater horizon leak and clowns at BP have wrecked decent Jambalaya in that region. For this crime alone the fine is more than justified.

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    British companies should pay their American fines and American companies should pay their British taxes.
    9/11 certainly changed some American attitudes towards the IRA and terrorism, but that is not relevant to this topic.
    If BP hadn't cocked up they wouldn't be fined.
    The guy who gave evidence on behalf of BP to the Senate Committee had the charisma of a flatulent camel.

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.


    You're right, multinationals, the clue is in the name, however my observation is that US companies tend to have less of a social conscience than those based in other countries.

    As for your WW2 comments, the US held the UK to it's debts. Shameful.

    India? The jewel in the crown. Atrocities galore, and the US didn't get rich from trading African slaves?

    Let's face it, two wrongs ...

  • rate this

    Comment number 87.

    The UK owed a big debt to the US - both militarily and the big handouts from the Marshall Plan - what did the Muslims do for the UK?

    well the majority of them pay taxes, unlike Starbucks and amazon who are destroying British firms with their tax avoidance, I don't hate Americans, I just wish they would stop rescuing people who are happy and do not feel the need to be fat. Go away !

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    I agree the Irish community up in Boston especially financed the IRA. And shame on them.

    I just love how the British always paint it as a national thing when these are multi-national corporations.

    And if we are truly putting dollar amounts for lives - what about the fact that Britain would have ever been a Great Britain but for living off the backs of the Indian public for 3 centuries.

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    It depends what price you put on life.

    US: 4,000,000,000 / 11 American lives = $363.5M per life (discounting environmental problems and subsequent deaths in single figures)

    India: 470,000,000 / 3787 = $124, 109 per life (discounting env. issues and upto 20,000 subsequent deaths)

    Double standards I guess. The Yanks always talk a good game. They backed the IRA until Nine Eleven.

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.


    A lot of American tourists spending their money - but not many Americans living on welfare handouts in Hackney or other such boroughs are there? But a lot of Muslim immigrants are parasitically living off the backs of British taxpayers - are there not?

    The UK owed a big debt to the US - both militarily and the big handouts from the Marshall Plan - what did the Muslims do for the UK?

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    Just now
    LOL - you can always count on the British to paint this story as the US picking on a British company.

    If you saw how many American parasites are crawling around London at the moment you would understand our anger. The world and the Muslims are right, Yankees go home.

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    LOL - you can always count on the British to paint this story as the US picking on a British company.

    BP got let off pretty lightly in view of their CRIMINAL conduct - conduct they have pled guilty to I might add. No one twisted their arm here - they could have fought this in court.

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    What you must understand is that all these firms are in bed together, BP . Halliburton (formerly Brown &Root) ...remember Piper Alpha ? The facilities boys, not BP, are the corner cutters that cause disasters.

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    This tragedy occurred on an American rig operated by an American contractor and those who died were Americans. BP is being made to pay up. Yet what of the greater disaster several years ago in Alaska? I understand little of the compensation awarded there was ever paid by the American company held responsible.

    "In America it is "Do as I say" nor "Do as I do". - the late Sir Freddie Laker

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    Hm... I remember a certain California-based oil and gas exploration and production company that owned the Piper Alpha drilling platform in the North Sea; 165 people died. How much was the fine that the company paid? Go look it up and be not surprised....

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    Good job we have a "special relationship" with the US.

    The US government won't be satisfied until BP is destroyed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    Other deepwater operators must be shaking in their shoes now. Accidents happen. Let's have a new dispensation between consumers and producers. The blame game only rewards the politicians and lawyers. Compensation, of course. Blame, no. When are we going to fine USA investment bankers a few billion? Unlikely because we don't yet have such a moribund "democracy" as the USA.

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    And meanwhile American and other companies pay nothing for similar disasters elsewhere in the world because, you know, the third world's people are worth less. Chevron in Ecuador has absolutely no intention of paying a single penny, Dow in India, Shell in Nigeria.. the list is endless. (I'm not blaming the Americans, just rueing the way our world is)

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    @Robert Preston. Your job is not to learn, it is to report.

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    "This is just a USA tax and shows the dangers of working in the USA"

    You are right. The US is shooting itself in the foot. It will scare away investors who will see too much risk in the US (similar to Russia, say, or India). Capricious courts, anti-British propaganda by Obama, a creeping protectionsism...my advice to UK investors is...stay away. Far too risky.

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    The fine should be to paid into an international fund for cleaning up the environmental damage caused by US companies in Bhopal and other places.
    Dow chemical should be fined tens of billions to add to this fund.

    A War against Economic Hypocrisy fund


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