Oil giant BP says it has agreed to pay $4.5 billion in a wide-ranging settlement with the U.S. government over the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The London based multinational also said in a statement Thursday it agreed to plead guilty to charges including 11 felony counts of misconduct related to the deaths of 11 men in the rig explosion that triggered the oil spill. It also pleaded guilty to a felony count of obstruction of Congress.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
A person familiar with the deal says oil giant BP has agreed to pay a criminal penalty in the billions of dollars for the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record about the deal, also said two BP employees face manslaughter charges over the death of 11 people in the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that triggered the massive spill.
The person said BP will plead guilty to obstruction for lying to Congress about how much oil was pouring out of the ruptured well.
The explosion and fire aboard the Deepwater Horizon rig on April 20, 2010 set off a spill which continued for 87 days, fouling large areas of the southern coast of the United States.
The rig sank and an estimated 200 million gallons of crude oil gushed out of the well, fouling extensive areas of the southern U.S. coast and disrupting tourism and commercial fishing.
Any settlement is expected to dwarf the largest previous corporate criminal penalty assessed by the Department of Justice -- the $1.2 billion fine imposed on drug maker Pfizer in 2009.
BP has booked provisions of $38.1 billion to cover its liabilities from the incident, but the company has said the final cost remained highly uncertain. BP also recently announced that it expects to make the final payment this year to a $20 billion trust fund to cover damage from the blowout.
In March, BP announced a settlement estimated at $7.8 billion with more than 100,000 individuals and businesses for medical and economic losses.
In January 2011, a U.S. presidential commission found that the spill was caused by time-saving, cost-cutting decisions by BP, rig owner Transocean and cement contractor Halliburton.
In September last year, a team of Coast Guard officials and federal regulators concluded BP bears ultimate responsibility. Their report found BP violated U.S. regulations, ignored crucial warnings and made bad decisions during the cementing of the well a mile (1.6 kms) beneath the Gulf of Mexico.