BP has agreed to pay $4.5 billion in penalties and plead guilty to 14 counts of criminal misconduct over the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico two years ago.
The admission of guilt and the record fine – the biggest criminal penalty in US legal history – are part of a settlement with American authorities that will resolve all Federal criminal charges linked to the worst offshore oil spill in the country’s history.
Eleven workers were killed and nearly five million barrels of crude oil leaked into Gulf as a result of an explosion on the Horizon rig off the Louisiana coast in April 2010.
BP still faces civil claims from federal, state and local authorities, with the case due to go to trial in February.
Announcing the criminal settlement today, Bob Dudley, who took charge of the oil giant’s business after the spill led to Tony Hayward’s ousting as chief executive, apologised for the company’s role in the spill.
“We have accepted responsibility for our actions,” he said, as the FTSE 100-listed business pleaded guilty to 11 felony counts related to the lives lost and one felony count linked to obstruction of Congress, along with two misdemeanours.
David Vitter, the junior US Senator from Louisiana, urged the Obama administration to now be “equally aggressive in securing civil monies” to help coast communities hit by the spill.