BP Guilty Plea of $4 Billion Approved

A U.S. District Court Judge in New Orleans approved a guilty plea submitted by British Petroleum (BP), resolving criminal charges against the company for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. BP Exploration & Production Inc., a subsidiary of BP, assumes full responsibility for the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history. The guilty plea, approved on January 29, 2013, includes felony seaman's manslaughter charges stemming from the deaths of 11 seamen working the oil rig that exploded.

BP will pay a total of $4 billion in fines and penalties, including a record $1.26 billion criminal fine. The plea includes a clause stating that BP's future drilling operations will be monitored. BP also pleaded guilty to three other separate charges today: a felony count of obstructing Congress, a misdemeanor count for violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and another misdemeanor count for violating the Clean Water Act. 

Two of the well-site supervisors working Deepwater Horizon are unaffected by the guilty plea. Both still personally face criminal involuntary manslaughter charges, seaman's manslaughter charges and charges under the Clean Water Act.

Though the guilty plea resolves criminal charges associated with the spill, BP will still be vulnerable to civil lawsuits filed by the U.S. and several gulf states, accusing the company of violating environmental laws. Next month, a U.S. District Judge will start a nonjury trial to allocate civil liability for BP and other companies that were involved in the spill.
Bloomberg reports that BP could still face roughly $18 billion in fines for violating the Clean Water Act.