BP May Face Another $17 Billion in Fines

BP may have agreed to the largest criminal settlement in United States history over its ownership of the Macondo well that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, sinking the Deepwater Horizon rig and spilling more than 4.5 million barrels of oil, but the company could yet face billions more in financial responsibility.

Resolving a criminal inquiry into the 2010 oil spill, one of the worst in history, BP agreed last week to pay $4.5 billion in fines, but the ongoing Securities and Exchange Commission investigation could still result in up to $17.6 billion in additional fines and tariffs. The company will now seek to resolve claims made against it for violations of the Clean Water Act, with both the federal government and that of the state of Louisiana pursuing the energy company as cleanup efforts on the Gulf coast continue.

The criminal settlement comes following BP pleading guilty to 14 criminal counts, including 11 for felony manslaughter in the cases of the 11 people who were killed when the well exploded and the rig sank. Lesser charges include one misdemeanor count under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and one felony count for obstruction of Congress regarding inaccurate statements made by BP representatives to government officials during the original inquiry.

“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 BP Chief Executive Officer Bob Dudley in a statement. “We apologize for our role in the accident, and as today’s resolution with the U.S. government further reflects, we have accepted responsibility for our actions.”

Personal responsibility will also be enforced as the U.S. gets set to prosecute two BP well-site managers with manslaughter for their mishandling of initial tests that indicated instability in the well, along with one company executive that is accused of obstructing the initial investigation by giving false statements in order to downplay the size and gravity of the explosion and spill.

You can return to the main Market News page, or press the Back button on your browser.