BP is to pay a record $4.5 billion over 6 years in damages, and plead guilty to felony misconduct for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster. The settlement includes a $1.256 billion criminal fine, which is the biggest in U.S. legal history.
As you will remember, the Deepwater Horizon disaster involved and explosion on the oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, and killed 11 workers. In the 87 days following the explosion, 4.9 million barrels of oil gushed into the Gulf. It was a bigger disaster than the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska in 1989.
BP has said it would plead guilty to 11 felony charges related to employee deaths, as well as 2 misdemeanors for the obstruction of Congress. It is still possible that the company will end up paying more than the $4.5 billion, as there are still a variety of claims looming from Gulf Coast communities and private plaintiffs.
It’s worth noting that BP has made tens of billions in profit since the oil spill in 2010. Just in the last quarter the company made a $5.4 billion profit, and $9.7 billion for the year. The company also has $15 billion in cash reserves, not to mention spending $15 million in its Congress lobbying efforts since 2011.
Image CC licensed by ideum: Deepwater Horizon disaster