US judge approves BP's $4bn deal to settle criminal spill charges

29 January 2013 20:27  [Source: ICIS news]

US judge approves BPHOUSTON (ICIS)--A US district court judge on Tuesday approved 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.

Neither the US Department of Justice nor BP presented arguments to Judge Sarah Vance, although written statements had been given by 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.

Part of the $4bn criminal recovery will be dedicated to environmental restoration and preservation efforts, as well as oil-spill prevention and response programmes.

BP will be placed on five years' 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.

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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