US judge to consider BP’s $4bn criminal settlement on oil spill

28 January 2013 17:20  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--A US district court judge on Tuesday will consider approving a $4bn (€3bn) agreement for UK-based energy giant BP to settle federal criminal charges in connection with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

BP agreed on 15 November to plead guilty to 11 counts of felony manslaughter, one count of felony obstruction of Congress and violations of the Clean Water and Migratory Bird Treaty Acts.

Before making her decision, Judge Sarah Vance will hear from prosecutors and BP attorneys, as well as victims and relatives of the 11 workers killed in the April 2010 Macondo explosion and fire that led to a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

If Vance approves the agreement, BP will pay $4bn in criminal recovery, of which about $2.4bn will be dedicated to restoring and preserving the marine and coastal environments as well as improving the wetlands damaged by the oil spill. An additional $350m will be used to fund improvements in oil-spill prevention and response.

Also, BP will be placed on a five-year probation and will have to independently monitor its process-safety and risk-management programmes and retain an ethics monitor to improve its code of conduct.

If Vance rejects the agreement, BP can withdraw its guilty plea and go to trial.

If approved, the $4bn settlement would be in addition to a $525m agreement that BP made with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

A judge approved that settlement in December.

Separately, BP reached an economic- and property-damage settlement agreement with several people and businesses who sued the company following the spill.

In connection with the Deepwater Horizon disaster, three of BP’s managers and a former engineer also face criminal charges.

In a related case, Transocean agreed in January to pay $1.4bn to settle civil and criminal charges related to the spill. A judge will consider Transocean’s guilty plea agreement on 14 February.

($1 = €0.74)

By: Tracy Dang
+1 713 525 2653

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