BP Deepwater Horizon disaster: Cleaning up the legal spill

CLEANING up the waters and the shoreline of the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon disaster of 2010 cost BP $14 billion. The British oil giant’s final bill for tidying up the legal entanglements after 4.9m barrels of its oil spewed into the Gulf of Mexico are also becoming clearer. On November 15th BP agreed to pay $4.5 billion over five years to settle all the criminal liabilities resulting from the rig explosion and oil spill. Two employees will also face manslaughter charges over the explosion.

The aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill left the Gulf of Mexico devastated.

The aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill left the Gulf of Mexico devastated.

Add the $4.5 billion together with the $6.5 billion it has paid on claims from individuals and businesses that suffered and the $7.8 billion it agreed to cough up to settle further such claims and the bill, excluding clean-up costs, has hit some $19 billion so far. Though the criminal settlement is the largest ever fine levied on a company—dwarfing the $1.3 billion Pfizer forked out in 2009 to settle charges that it illegally marketed one of its drugs—this is not an end to BP’s financial burden. But BP will be breathing a small sigh of relief. In determining that it was guilty of “felony counts of misconduct or neglect”, the court stopped short of attempting to pin a charge of gross negligence on the firm.

Charges stemming from the federal Clean Water Act allow the government to fine BP between $1,100 and $4,300 for each barrel of oil spilled—another fine of between $5.4 billion $21 billion….

Continue reading on The Economist.

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